Squeezing Dollars out of Your WAN

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For some, the troubled economy is a time to hunker down and do their best to stay afloat until the good times return. Others see it as an opportunity.


Put the WAN optimization crowd in the latter category. The industry is making a concerted effort to convince enterprises that investment in their technology will reap major savings down the road. And in most cases, they're right.


Take the latest pitch from Riverbed. The company says the new enhanced versions of the Riverbed Optimization Systems (RiOS), the Riverbed Services Platform (RSP) and the Steelhead Mobile device delivers even greater levels of branch office network consolidation, allowing you to centralize file and application servers and integrate greater numbers of third-party applications. You can also deploy the new system without major upgrades to network infrastructure.


Meanwhile, Expand Networks has devised its own TCO/ROI Calculator Tool that lays out the cost savings of deploying WAN Optimization in support of initiatives like virtualization, server-based computing and server consolidation. The system takes into consideration metrics such as user productivity and server maintenance costs, with an eye toward providing a full report for front office review. The tool is available online.


And then there are those who argue that improved WAN performance is a reward unto itself. Cisco is hoping that boosting throughput to 20 Gbps with its Aggregation Services Router (ASR) 1000 will be enough to draw interest in new hardware. The new line also offers 8 Gb IPsec encryption and improved processing through the company's proprietary QuantumFlow system.


To get the most out of your WAN, it's important to resist the temptation to simply throw money into it. According to research from The Aberdeen Group, how you upgrade could make a world of difference. In a recent survey, the group found that an investment of $234 per year, per user in best-in-class optimization technology saw data communications costs of about $126 per year, per user. Trimming the WAN investment to $203 per year, per user saw data costs rise to $162, which is almost an even split except for the fact that the best-in-class users are seeing a 10- to 15-fold increase in network performance.


Pitching investment in WAN optimization technology is kind of like the enterprise equivalent of the wife telling her husband, "Yes, I know it's expensive, but it saves you money." It does, but you'll have to do some homework in order to convince the decision-makers.