WAN Optimization Shifts Toward the Cloud

Arthur Cole
Slide Show

Cloud Computing Starts to Mature

The emphasis in the cloud is shifting from public to private cloud computing deployments.

More and more enterprises are dipping that first toe into the cloud and as a result are quickly learning that extending their data center footprints over public networks is not as easy as it sounds.

Public networks are messy, bandwidth-constrained and unreliable, which is a shaky stool on which to base such a far-reaching expansion of data infrastructure.

Small wonder, then, that interest in new cloud-ready WAN optimization technology is heating up. In the past few months, a bevy of new solutions has hit the channel as vendors reposition their platforms from their traditional roles as remote/branch office solutions. A key development is asymmetric acceleration, which allows enterprises to optimize their cloud infrastructure without adding hardware or software to the cloud provider's infrastructure.

Riverbed, for example, just came out with three new Whitewater appliances - the 510, the 710 and the 2010 - that allow asymmetric acceleration for small- and mid-sized firms that most experts feel will come to rely on public cloud services to a high degree. The devices provide a 12:1 deduplication ratio as well as AES 256-bit and SSL v3 encryption. The system supports Symantec's NetBackup and Backup Exec, IBM's Tivoli, EMC's NetWorker and other backup platforms, using both local disk and cloud cache services to optimize cloud performance on leading cloud platforms like Amazon S3, AT&T Synaptic and Nirvanix.

Silver Peak, meanwhile, is out with the NX-10K appliance, which specializes in accelerating performance over 2.5 Gbps OC-48 links. Built on a standard PC platform, the device holds up to 16 SSDs that provide up to 1.6 TB of storage. It also has the distinction of providing general IP traffic optimization rather than focusing on particular applications, which the company says gives it an edge in handling voice, video and other types of data that do not run on TCP.

And at Blue Coat, the major development is the CloudCaching Engine for the MACH5 appliance. Another asymmetric solution, the CloudCaching Engine specializes in Web applications, large data files and dynamic content. The company claims 40-fold acceleration for Microsoft SharePoint BPOS and a 500-fold increase in bandwidth capacity for on-demand video services. The system also helps to control data surges from video and other services that can sometimes knock out mission-critical applications.

At the same time the established optimization players are battling for control of the cloud, a new generation of startups is moving in. A prime example is Infineta, which bills its new Data Mobility Switch (DMS) as a "hyper-scale" optimization solution to handle high-bandwidth, data center-to-data center connections. Built on field-programmable silicon, the system provides a 5-10x bandwidth gain over traditional 1 Gbps, OC-12 and OC-48 links. It also has the ability to provide minimum data rates for selected services, enabling users to reserve resources for wideband or latency-sensitive applications.

Cloud computing requires enterprises to take a leap of faith - from the relative safety of owned and operated internal infrastructure to the "Wild West" of public networks. In that way, the WAN essentially becomes an extension of the LAN. And as reliance on that new extended network increases, so too does the need to ensure its performance and reliability.

If you haven't yet thought about how to improve your new external infrastructure, you probably will very soon.

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