You probably already have some idea what WAN Optimization is, or you wouldn’t be on this site. But if you’ve got as far as this sentence presumably you would like to know more, or to understand how Replify define it.
The terms WAN Optimization, WAN Acceleration and Application Acceleration are effectively synonymous for our purposes here. Let’s talk about the generally accepted definition of WAN Optimization before getting into the Replify perspective.
The networking trends driving this problem are:
2) Cloud computing. Just as the consolidation above was gathering pace, the industry realised that further efficiency and flexibility could be gained by pushing applications and the platforms on which they ran, into shared public data centers where you paid less, and paid only for what you used. This is driving the biggest transformation in delivery of IT that we’ve seen since the mainframe was displaced by mini-computers.
3) More people are spending more time outside the “office”. Some are home-workers, some travel on business, and some are off-shore workers.
The net result is that more and more people are trying to access corporate applications and data sources across a network that has far less bandwidth and far greater latency than a head-office LAN. And the applications themselves are often more complex, more collaborative and involve working with larger documents, databases, and rich content such as video. Consider a construction company working with large CAD documents on remote sites. Every design change is a small tweak to a large CAD file, which needs to be shared with others, and preserved as a record on the corporate eDRM system. Those changes may have to be communicated to and from a muddy field in a remote location served only by narrowband, dial-up, or satellite links. Or perhaps you’re a retailer with hundreds of small stores, all of which need to send stock-updates and orders each evening. Fat pipes may be available, but they’re expensive and your margins are slim – you really don’t want to put an expensive high-speed link into every site, just to handle that burst of information once a day.
So this creates a need to make WAN connections behave more like LAN connections in allowing more data, and faster data, across a connection. Luckily this is indeed possible and the most efficient way we know how to it today is to insert an intelligent proxy at each end of the connection that can intercept and “optimize” the traffic using a variety of complementary techniques. The idea is to use approaches which are transparent to both the user and the server so that nothing else need be changed, no security issues arise, and deployment is quick and easy.
There are three techniques common to nearly all WAN Optimisation and they work together as a “stack” of sorts on each side of the WAN connection.
Some vendors attempt a few other tricks such as monkeying around with the TCP protocol, or establishing multiple parallel connections, and re-ordering the packets which get out of sequence as a result of doing this. In Replify’s view, these techniques add more complexity (and hence cost) than value but others will cite them as their secret sauce so we should acknowledge that point of view. Some other vendors also bundle Quality of Service (QoS) into their products – while we leave this quite deliberately to those that specialise in it, and our Accelerator product works very well with QoS devices.
So that’s WAN Optimization as a concept – now let’s talk about Replify’s approach to delivering it.