cloud WAN Optimization

Bypassing the Bandwidth Cap

cloud bandwidth limitLimitations are onerous things. They slow us down and keep us from being all we can be. Even as more businesses turn to cloud computing to expand their potential, they run smack dab into the limitations of their Internet service provider’s bandwidth cap and suddenly find themselves waiting…and waiting…and waiting to retrieve data that they need right away, if not sooner.

Like Matt Ingram at GigaOm said recently, “The cloud is a wonderful thing,” noting that it provides us with endlessly expandable storage possibilities for those files – music, video, large documents – that we either don’t want or can’t afford to have taking up space locally. Then comes the “But…”:

But when the cloud meets an Internet service provider’s bandwidth cap (something that is unfortunately becoming more and more commonplace) it can be a less than happy experience.

And that’s a huge “but” in the cloud computing discussion. Companies would dearly like to trim expenses and maintenance requirements by centralizing data center and storage activities in the cloud, but before they can do that, they need to be certain the financial and time savings of this consolidation will not be offset by the additional time and expense to recover data from the cloud.

Cloud Identification

Cloud computing is a fairly broad term that is used very liberally. While it often means different things to different people, essentially it involves the delivery of the following hosted services over a shared WAN such as the Internet:

  • Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) – when a hosting provider, like Amazon Web Services, provides virtual servers with unique IP addresses and blocks of storage on demand. Customers benefit from an application programming interface (API) from which they can control their servers, and they have the flexibility to pay for exactly the amount of service they use.1
  • Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) – a set of software and development tools hosted on the provider’s servers. Developers can create applications using the provider’s APIs.1 Google Apps is one of the more popular PaaS offerings.
  • Software as a Service (SaaS) – a model of software deployment whereby a provider licenses an application to customers for use as a service on demand. SaaS software vendors may host the application on their own web servers (e.g. Salesforce.com) or download the application to an end user device.

Irrespective of the type of service deployed, all cloud computing initiatives have one thing in common – data is centralized, while users are distributed. This places an increased emphasis on the network, making cloud computing susceptible to the same WAN bandwidth, latency, and quality challenges that impact other enterprise applications.

cloud WAN OptimizationClearing a Path to the Clouds

To ensure that using the cloud remains the business enhancement it was intended to be rather than an ill-timed bottleneck, WAN optimization is critical to all cloud computing initiatives. By overcoming these challenges, Silver Peak’s WAN optimization is critical to all cloud computing initiatives.

Cloud services can be delivered across two types of cloud environments. In a “private cloud”, access is restricted to specific users (e.g. via a Virtual Private Network). In a “public cloud”, the hosted service is available to anyone. Both private and public clouds perform in a similar fashion as they are equally susceptible to the same bandwidth, latency, and quality issues. However, it is more difficult to deploy WAN optimization in environments where both ends of the link are not owned by a single entity, as is often the case in public cloud environments. In a private cloud environment, it is common for a single entity to “own” both ends of the WAN link, making it easier to deploy existing WAN optimization solutions in these environments.

Today, the vast majority of WAN optimization deployments in support of cloud initiatives involve the placement of a physical WAN optimization appliance on both ends of the network. However, initiatives are in the works for virtual appliances that can reside on existing infrastructure.

Silver Peak employs real-time network optimization techniques to maximize application performance across the cloud while minimizing IT operational costs.

These techniques include:

  • Network Integrity: a variety of real-time optimization techniques to “clean up” the cloud for better effective throughput. Advanced Quality of Service (QoS) services can prioritize traffic and guarantee that necessary bandwidth requirements are met.
  • Network Memory™: disk-based deduplication that eliminates the transfer of duplicate information sent across the WAN when cloud-based applications are accessed.
  • Network Acceleration: various TCP acceleration techniques that help overcome latency across a cloud infrastructure.

Whether it’s Google Apps, Hosted Microsoft Exchange, or an organization’s own disaster recovery system, Silver Peak provides real-time optimization techniques that maximize WAN performance and lower WAN costs in support of strategic cloud initiatives. The company’s unique network-centric approach to WAN optimization delivers maximum scalability while providing the flexibility needed to support all current and emerging applications.

About the author
Jonathan Bloom