Cloud Computing Starts to Mature
The emphasis in the cloud is shifting from public to private cloud computing deployments.
If WAN optimization wasn't already a compelling addition to IT infrastructure, the cloud has only made it more so.
But with a growing divergence of solutions hitting the channel, IT executives aren't struggling so much with whether to deploy WAN optimization, but where and how to do it.
For instance, there is the traditional appliance approach spearheaded by such well-known names as Riverbed and BlueCoat. The advantage here is that you get a powerful system in an easily deployable configuration, but questions remain as to whether they have the chops to handle heavier data loads packed with virtual machines. A new company called Infineta says it is addressing this need with its Data Mobility Switch, however. The company has opted to build on custom hardware rather than commodity x86 platforms, which it says is better at handling data center-to-data center traffic rather than remote or branch office connectivity.
There is also a new breed of cloud-based optimization services, which have the advantages of forgoing expensive hardware deployments and simplifying upgrades and scale-out projects. Virtela, for one, is drawing raves for its Cloud-Based Application Acceleration Service, which is available from 50 sites around the globe and promises a 25-fold increase in application performance for about $5 per day per office. As with the cloud in general, however, there are the perennial concerns of security and availability.
Perhaps a middle-of-the-road approach is warranted, then. Certeon recently released a Windows version of its aCelera system for Server 2008 R2. As an all-software solution that sits within existing server infrastructure, it provides a low-cost solution that is fairly scalable and safely ensconced within your own firewall. The system even allows you to set resource limits so it won't interfere with the server's other functions. The company maintains that it can provide optimization equal to an appliance, although it's intended for small to medium enterprises that are struggling with hardware cost and space issues. In higher-volume environments, it's unclear whether it can maintain adequate service while tying up minimal resources.
Hardware, software or the cloud? It sounds like WAN optimization is finally hitting the mainstream in enterprise technology circles. This diversity of solutions has the advantage of allowing CIOs to cherry-pick the right mix to best address their needs. But it also means there is plenty of room for mistakes.