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Because WAN optimization sits at the intersection of applications, networking, and storage, its potential benefits goes well beyond what enterprises had realized in the past. In fact, WAN optimization has now evolved into an architectural design element that shapes the performance lifecycle of IT.
To fully appreciate this requires an understanding of how applications and networks perform today. Leading WAN optimization solutions have the ability to provide deep visibility into application performance. They allow IT to simultaneously spotlight performance pains and potential problem areas. Smart visibility tools can baseline what is “normal‟ performance and alert to any abnormal performance characteristics.
In turn, IT can reduce the mean time to find problems and avoid digging through reams of information to find the culprit. Such visibility tools also provide high-level information for business managers and technical leaders looking to help them understand performance and how it may be impacting the organization.
With a deep and more powerful understanding of how the business uses its networked resources, WAN optimization can more intelligently accelerate applications and storage throughout the business. This is where the core optimization value still comes into play. What has evolved over time is how and where optimization takes place. Solutions that depend on file caching for part or all of their optimization have now mostly become irrelevant for businesses.
WAN optimization solutions that have just limited themselves to CIFS and MAPI protocol optimizations often look like basic toys compared to systems that have layered on optimizations for encrypted Exchange, NFS, SharePoint, Lotus Notes, Oracle, Citrix VDI, RDP, SSL, EMC SRDF, FCIP, and HTTPS: add in application prioritization to this formula and you get the perfect recipe for optimal performance.
If optimization were simply about Layer 4 tuning, WAN optimization would be features of other products instead of a complete category. In addition to making remote server centralization possible without performance problems, the best WAN optimization solutions deliver “branch office box” capabilities by using virtualization to allow flexible deployment of other services directly on the device.
This allows items like print servers, Active Directory, DNS/DHCP, streaming media, firewalls, routers, and even custom applications to be deployed in the branch without any additional hardware. In addition to saving thousands per branch in capex costs, this cuts energy costs and contributes to any green initiatives. But WAN optimization solutions can go much further.