The great rivers of the world are forces of nature that have provided crucial sources for transport, commerce, and communications for centuries. An unrestrained river can carve and alter the topography with its power, while an obstructed one can adversely impact the human and animal populations within its path. When a free-flowing river turns into a stream, a “performance gap” occurs that will amount to lost revenue and productivity, as it is relied upon for transportation of people and commodities.
Suffice it to say, we can have performance gaps in our WANs, too. For example, we purchase a network connection with substantial throughput that should support all of our applications and users. But, as is often the case, factors such as latency, congestion, and packet loss consume much of the bandwidth — and the actual throughput we get is but a trickle. This is true for connectivity to our data centers, remote offices, and mobile users. Of course, when our networks are running with full, unimpeded capacity, both end-users and network administrators are happy and productive. But, as soon as the network begins to slow or become obstructed, both end-users and administrators suffer.
Deep gorges can be created by flowing rivers, but water alone is not the single element driving the erosion — canyons are created though the combined force of water, debris, rocks, and boulders wearing down the earth. Just as canyon walls are a result of water and other river-borne elements carving out earth and rock, poor application delivery and lost productivity are the result of impeded bandwidth from various elements that erode network performance and reliability.
WAN optimizers help keep network bandwidth fully utilized by removing congestion — plucking out “debris” from your stream — and mitigating packet loss and latency. But WAN throughput will vary depending on the acceleration techniques deployed. For example, if only TCP window sizing or selective acknowledgement technologies are used to mitigate latency, network performance can be improved to some degree. To significantly address network issues from impeding the flow of applications on our networks, we need a combination of diverse technologies that simultaneously work together to deliver maximum throughput.
If a WAN optimizer only offers a limited set of functionality, or can only use a subset of a full-featured device at one time, organizations will be limited in their ability to get the full throughput capacity they expect and need. To keep both end-users and network administrators happy and productive, enterprises should consider a WAN optimization solution that has a robust complement of features and functions and uses them simultaneously while also delivering on the performance side.
Don’t limit your organization’s ability to fully address WAN performance and reliability. Take advantage of data center-class WAN optimizers that can restore the flow of your network.
Image credit: SanFranAnnie (flickr)