WAN Optimization and the New Enterprise Environment

Arthur Cole

Arthur Cole spoke with Donna Johnson, director of product marketing, Talari.

Distributed data architectures are designed to add redundancy and resilience to traditional siloed environments. Once the distribution moves up to a regional level or out onto the cloud, reliance on wide area networks naturally increases. However, most WAN optimization solutions were designed for branch/home office connectivity, although the industry has been working feverishly to incorporate new cloud requirements. Talari's Donna Johnson explains the challenges of this transition and how platforms like the next-generation enterprise WAN (NEW) are addressing them.

Cole: WAN optimization is quickly becoming one of the more established technologies in the enterprise. How are optimization requirements changing as enterprises transition from simple branch-office connectivity to fully distributed data environments?

Johnson: As enterprises move toward distributed data environments, branch offices rely extensively on services that are not provided by the servers local to the branch office but are located in the data center or in the public/private clouds. It becomes therefore crucial that the connection to the remote servers is available, QoS is ensured and application performance is guaranteed all the time even if a WAN link becomes temporarily unavailable or impaired. It is not enough to just depend on a leased line, such as MPLS, as it still leaves offices vulnerable to a single point of failure. WAN optimization has traditionally assumed that the network link it relies on is available and of sufficient quality. In our opinion, WAN optimization solutions must take steps to ensure that this is the case. Talari's WAN solution aggregates two or more links and constantly monitors the availability and quality of those links so that fully distributed data environments can successfully assume that they always have a high quality and dependable network.

Cole: Unified communications is also adding voice and video to the mix. How should IT executives plan for these services on the WAN?

Johnson: Real-time applications such as voice and UC video are extremely sensitive to network impairments such as packet loss, jitter and latency and are challenging applications to run over a WAN. End-to-end QoS must be provided to ensure that whenever congestion occurs, VoIP or video packets still get to where they need to go. While traditional private line technologies like MPLS promise QoS, those lines do experience short periods of loss and jitter, which make voice and video difficult to use and result in dropped calls. Plus, when corporate communication depends entirely on a WAN, it is imperative that there are backup plans in place so communication is not dependent on any single link.

Cole: New technologies like networking as a service and next-generation enterprise WAN (NEW) also promise increased throughput and more efficient bandwidth management. Should these be viewed as adjuncts or replacements to traditional optimization techniques?

Johnson: Talari's Next generation Enterprise WAN Solution, WAN Virtualization, does not replace WAN optimization but complements it. While WAN optimization reduces the amount of bandwidth required to transfer through the WAN, WAN Virtualization introduces and controls diverse WAN links to ensure resiliency and high QoS over best-effort broadband links, ensuring application continuity even when one of the WAN links is unavailable or impaired.

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