WAN Application Delivery

WAN Application Delivery is the Key to Making Angry Birds Fly

Friday, January 27, 2012 | Dan Blacharski

WAN application delivery—and by necessity, related issues such as data quality, monitoring and optimisation, is one of the biggest behind-the-scenes technologies in the marketplace. It may not get the media attention as do the angry birds that populate the latest mobile games, but how this market shakes out may well make the difference on whether your angry birds catapult across the sky on a timely basis.
According to IDC, WAN application delivery is one of the biggest drivers of the astounding growth we're seeing in the network equipment market, with WAN application delivery expected to hit US$1.3 billion by year end.
Growth of the WAN necessitates oversight, and that includes monitoring, but it doesn't stop there. Good application delivery of course, also requires quality data throughput, not just speed - network speed by itself won't cut it. Remaining productive depends on efficient WAN connectivity, but how do we pinpoint the source of WAN performance issues? The time dependency of so many useful enterprise applications complicate the application delivery proposition, and simple network monitoring by itself will accomplish little in ensuring that time-dependent packets travelling over what is really, when it comes down to it, a best-effort service, arrive in such a way as to ensure the smooth and synchronous receipt of data such as VoIP or video on the other end.

[ White Paper - Understanding Internet Speed Test Results - The problem is not in the measurement, it is in understanding the test results as they relate to the application problem being experienced (PDF) ]

The biggest challenge in efficient WAN application delivery is just the sheer number of components. The approach is mostly ad hoc at present, often with multiple applications being supported individually rather than optimizing for the WAN. Performance depends on the bandwidth provider, the equipment on the service provider's side, and the in-house routers and multiplexers, and as a result, a more integrated approach is called for. And more specifically, an assessment of the health of each packet and a determination as to whether it is usable or unusable.

The demand for capacity, and the prevalence of more time-dependent applications is only the beginning. This growth pattern has resulted in very different types of traffic as well as very different traffic patterns. And the incredible benefits of the cloud notwithstanding, delivery from the cloud over the Internet to the end user still requires transit over multiple networks over which the originator will have no control.
Fortunately, according to the IDC study, the ad hoc approach to WAN optimization has reached a point where a broader solution is in demand and rapidly becoming more available. Because the WAN manager has had to address so many issues across so many different applications, network wide management has become essential, and a TheInfoPro  survey showed that 65 percent of respondents were planning networkwide WAN optimization deployment, as opposed to 35 percent seeing it still as a point solution—indicating that WAN optimization is rapidly becoming a strategic tool for the enterprise.
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