Within the realm of IT installation and configuration, WAN optimisation is rather an ambiguous terminology. Nonetheless, it provokes an impression of a process meant to attain cost-effectiveness in the delivery of data throughout an organisation. Even as every expert has a nuanced definition of the term; WAN optimisation revolves around the utilisation of hardware, software and creating strategies to extract maximum utility within its capabilities.
Ultimately, the cost-effectiveness of WAN optimisation in data delivery depends on end-user expectations, business data needs, the value of the data and available IT infrastructure. Within such metrics, an organisation can avoid problems emanating from high per-bit cost assessment.
But even with the intent to develop WAN optimisation strategies; most businesses do not have data pertinent to their data traffic patterns and even the effect of data packet delay or loss on the performance of its applications.
Basically, a robust and effective WAN optimisation strategy should be a result of meticulous baseline information gathering. Some of the information collected can be;
i. Current devices consuming bandwidth
ii. Priority for each of the devices as a bandwidth consumption source
iii. Environmental and business changes impact on bandwidth demand
iv. End users needs for their application performance
v. Factors affecting network quality
vi. The current mapping to achieve an optimum structured data cabling
vii. Current network performance with respect to packet data loss or delay
Therefore, to achieve maximum effectiveness with a WAN strategy, the business needs to measure and consider the current network conditions and priorities that depend on the network. Below are some of the WAN optimisation strategies businesses or companies can incorporate into their operations.
The dynamic nature and robustness of technological mobility, cloud computing and virtualisation exerts pressure on organisations to provide a reliable network connection for its users. Therefore, the IT department needs to be on the offensive in monitoring these needs. Consequently, the company may consider including application performance monitoring (APM) in their WAN network. True to their name, these applications monitor and collect data on which areas of the network that are underperforming. This data can then be fed into application delivery controllers (ADC) that would then interpret this data and initiate load balancing and assist application to perform tasks that would otherwise be done by web servers. Consequently, a great deal of load is offloaded thereby improving the performance of WAN. Luckily, the market is awash with increasingly intelligent ADCs that can be incorporated into structured data cabling.
Embrace Cloud Computing and Virtualisation
A workplace is no longer what it used to be. Indeed, the workspace has evolved from a physical realm where people assemble to get tasks done. Currently, businesses can run their functionalities from any location. As such, the traditional WAN model must evolve to reflect the current reality. Therefore, another WAN optimisation strategy to adopt public cloud computing to change and enhance the functionalities of WAN and utilise virtual application tools as alternatives to hardware to ensure WAN optimisation. Removing hardware ensures the whole network rides in the efficiencies and competencies of software. Invariably, software is easy to manage and relatively cheap to upgrade. Ultimately, virtualisation and cloud computing expand WAN beyond the reaches of the physical office increasing the productivity of users. In fact, it can allow intelligent IT installations and configurations to redistribute recourses such that users work around the clock.
Automated WAN management
In the fullness of time, WAN functionalities become incredibly complex especially in the realm of cloud computing, cyber threats, virtualisation and mobile devices capabilities. Invariably, WANs get clogged with all sorts of data traffic which slows up the system and can cascade into a major network failure in due course. Therefore, it is important for businesses to acquire intelligent WAN optimisation management systems. The goal of these acquisitions is to reduce the level and amount of human interventions. Ultimately, this intervention reduces the complexity of the system to run and also reduces the company’s bottom lines. In the face of constantly evolving internet security threats and complex computing environment, the traditional port protocol firewalls are severely overwhelmed. These rapid changes require WAN agility, flexibility and robustness to subtly outmatch the challenges. This strategy works in three phases.
i. Visibility- Every data traffic is clearly visible and measurable to uncover potential issue early on for a more articulate control
ii. Advanced firewall- Prevents data loss and intrusion
iii. Compression- The system accelerates data traffic through data shaping and mitigation against latency
Support Video Consumption
Arguably, video content consumption exerts incredible pressure on an organisations network causing poor user experience and lowering applications performance. But the use of video is inevitable and on the rise; an organisation cannot just wish it away. However, an organisation can indeed create WAN optimisation strategy to specifically target the consumption of video and thereby equalising the load on WAN. One of the ways is to incorporate WAN optimisers. Indeed, there is video-centric (QoS) quality of service optimisers with compression and caching capabilities. Effectively, this strategy improves the overall quality of the WAN network by compressing videos and caching such copies for later use so that the videos are not downloaded or moved through WAN multiple times.
Increase Link Bandwidth
One of the most effective WAN optimisation strategies is to increase the link bandwidth. As expected, the most over-utilised data links are WAN circuits where the majority of the company’s data traffic traverses across the data centre and the internet. Consequently, overused WAN links are plagued with queuing delays and occasionally, packet data loss. It is therefore imperative for the business the map out effective and structured data cabling to ensure that WAN circuits are not overloaded.
QoS – Quality of Service
The purpose of implementing QoS is fairly simple and straightforward; the company prioritises various data traffic classes relative to the available network bandwidth with the view of optimising bandwidth usage and therefore manage the performance of the entire WAN network. By default, data packets are received and disseminated using the FIFO (first in first out) system. As such, there is no prioritisation of data packets or labelling into different classes. QoS does not increase WAN bandwidth or prevent packet losses. However, during congestion, it determines which data goes through the system at that particular time and which data class is dropped or queued. Therefore, QoS strategy helps a company optimise its WAN infrastructure.
Simplify Branch Office WAN needs
One of the WAN optimisation strategies is to simplify WAN infrastructure in the branch offices. This is with a view to reducing competing needs on the main WAN infrastructure. Light IT installation and configuration at the branch level goes a long way in consolidating access to data centres such that branch employees get efficiency.
Clearly, web optimisation is a continuous process of data collection and monitoring to ensure that the WAN optimisation strategy utilises the most recent and accurate metrics. It is a keen of going beyond solving a squeaky-wheel with grease by dismantling the whole wheel to determine the exact problem. Therefore businesses and users can adopt WAN optimisation strategies to squeeze the most out of their WAN infrastructure