Over the past few years many organisations have started to adopt the idea of data centre 3.0; where consolidation and virtualisation are the key components.

Consolidating services and applications back to the data centre and away from the branch brings many benefits such as; reduced cost, improved backup and recovery and ease of management. Virtualisation also brings many benefits which allows services to be delivered to end-users more quickly, reducing the total cost of ownership on equipment. With the benefit of consolidation and virtualisation, there is one thing that tends to be forgotten when organisations go down this route and this vital area is performance.

Many applications which continue to be used nowadays were designed with local (and that implied high-speed) connectivity in mind; the application and the end-user would be in the same location as the application. When an organisation starts to host applications centrally and the user community is dotted across the globe, this is where latency, jitter and bandwidth become a significant end-user experience affecting issue. Many applications are not designed to traverse wide area networks and subsequently don’t function correctly when high latency and low bandwidth is introduced. The result of this poor performance is ultimately the degraded end-user experience as well as the impact on their productivity. This is when WAN optimisation as an overall strategy (rather than a point solution) can come into play in order to address the performance issues, when consolidating an IT infrastructure.

The aim of the game for WAN optimisation is to improve the performance of applications and provide a LAN like experience to end-users.

Many vendors use different techniques to achieve this, including: compression – to reduce the amount of traffic traversing the network; caching – store frequently used data locally on the optimisation appliance; TCP optimisation – reduce the number of round trips to complete transactions by increasing the size of the payload; or bonding of multiple links together to extract benefit from all of the above and share it amongst multiple (cheaper) routes to the destination.

Introducing WAN optimisation ensures applications can continue to perform as they should without the need to invest in high bandwidth/low latency links simply for this reason at remote locations. It also allows an organisation to consolidate and virtualise their infrastructure while continuing to ensure network performance improves, allowing end users (and therefore organisations) to continue to be productive.

With all of these solutions delivered, the improved management and visibility of usage and performance influence future decisions and ensure when the users feel the need for speed, the network delivers!