We in IT are faced with many challenges from our end users. From IT costs to application performance, while always keeping an eye on our network security posture. This reminds me of a sign on the wall of my auto mechanic’s shop: Good, Fast, Low-cost. I was always told I am allowed to pick only two. I would of course question him, “why cant I have something with high quality, on time, and within budget?” This always made him smile, but he still told me I could only pick two.
So back to our IT challenges: Cost, Performance, and Security. Application performance is something we can all see, feel and touch. When thinking about performance, we need to also consider where these applications are coming from. Looking at applications like Microsoft’s Office 365, we are seeing mission critical applications from outside our data centers being delivered as Software as a Service (SaaS) solution. Does this matter to our end users? They sit at their PC’s, Tablets, Mac’s, etc. and know when something is not going fast enough. Their expectations are growing; they always expect the best performance. If they don’t feel their Outlook e-mail is opening fast enough or that the saving of their PowerPoint file is taking too long, they do not hesitate to let us know. And oddly enough, everyone just assumes it is the network. So not only do we need to think about our networks, but the Internet performance as well.
During the past years WAN optimization devices were used to optimize end-user traffic mainly. Employers connecting to remote applications can achieve better user experience if a couple of WAN optimization are deployed. Typically web applications, file sharing and email can be well accelerated: end users can increase their productivity with a little investment.
On the other side providers usually offer free bandwidth upgrade during a contract renewal.
So the question are:
Can Data Center replication take advantage of WAN optimization?
Can a Bandwidth upgrade always supersede WAN optimization?
Have you ever been behind the wheel of your car moving at 5 mph? Visualize this: as I wait patiently for my turn to merge onto Interstate 880 N, based on the honor system because there is no meter, a brightly colored Fiat rolls by on the left shoulder. A few seconds later, a Smart Car inches up and squeezes itself between my car and the narrow right shoulder passing me as well. The Smart Car has a bumper sticker that says “Please don’t hit me. I’m not sure about my coverage.” Hmm…
Now that you’re probably done giggling at my experience, let’s analyze the scenario above. Designing a network of highways takes a lot. A smart highway system not only reduces congestion and prevents collision, but also provides expedient information, such as signage and speed sensors, to improve driver response times. Civil engineers consider more than just current traffic and road conditions when they design highway systems. They also consider how to scale for the future, taking into account urbanization, seasonal factors, and future uncertainties such as mini cars. Sound familiar?
Many of the design and management considerations for an Internet wide area network—such as bandwidth management, application response time, and centralized control—are similar to highway system design.
Recently, I heard a beautiful Beethoven Quartet Opus 131 piece played in an office not too far from mine. Its rhythm was so tranquil that the notes visually sang in my ears and brought up images of Ike sitting behind Cisco WAAS Central Manager listening to classical music on his headphones. (“Who is Ike?” You may ask. On the surface, Ike is your everyday IT guy that wins the girl’s heart in Ike wins with a vendor you can trust. Behind the scene, Ike is the hero that keeps productivity high and end-user satisfied, all working together, to propel his organization ahead of the competition.)
“Remember the days of measuring bandwidth by the Baud?“1
The awesome guys at TechwiseTV just made a really fun video on understanding the Fundamentals of WAAS (Wide Area Application Services), Cisco’s WAN Optimization technology. They start off with the basics – what you need to think about for WAN Optimization – and finish up with where the technology is going.
“Hold onto your keyboards because this is where it really gets cool.”