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What’s Driving the Need for Unity?

Silver Peak Unity LogoThe deployment of WAN Optimization Controllers (WOCs) began in the mid-2000s and was driven by two key use cases.  The first was was enabling an IT organization to take resources out of branch offices and place them in centralized data centers.  The other use case was enabling an IT organization to effectively implement Disaster Recovery (DR) and Business Continuity (BC).  Silver Peak recently announced some new functionality and features which they call Unity.  So, is Unity just another way of responding to the two use cases that have been driving WOC deployment for the last 7 or 8 years or are we seeing something new?

The quick answer to that question is that yes indeed, there is something new here.  What’s new is the growing use of public cloud computing and the impact that is having on a company’s WAN.  The 2014 State of the WAN Report contained the results of a survey in which the respondents were asked to indicate the biggest drivers of increased Internet traffic.  Their responses indicate that by a wide margin accessing public cloud applications and services is the biggest driver.  The growing adoption of public cloud services is having more of an impact on the WAN than just an increase in WAN traffic.  InformationWeek’s 2014 Next-Gen WAN Survey included the results of a survey in which the respondents were asked if the adoption of public cloud services has caused them to re-evaluate their WAN strategy and gave them three possible responses:  yes, no and don’t know.  Of the respondents that answered either yes or no, 39% answered yes.  The impact of public cloud on the WAN is unlikely to change any time soon because IDC recently stated that over the 2013–2017 forecast period, public cloud services will have a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 23.5%, five times that of the IT industry as a whole.

There are several reasons why the growth in the use of the Internet to access public cloud services is causing IT organizations to rethink their WAN strategy.  One reason is that the impact of the traditional challenges associated with using the Internet become more apparent as the use of the Internet increases.  One of these traditional challenges is commonly referred to as TCP’s “long fat pipe problem,” which means that as the length of the Internet connection increases, the network throughput decreases.  Another reason is that the use of these public cloud services exacerbates the long pipe problem because in many cases these services are delivered from data centers far away from the users.

There are some other significant challenges associated with accessing SaaS and IaaS providers.  For example, neither Amazon’s AWS nor Microsoft’s Azure support multicast nor broadcast traffic.  In most cases it is very difficult to set up a VPN between a company’s firewall and an IaaS’s provider’s Virtual Private Gateway (VPG).  In addition if an IT organization wants to move data between two IaaS providers such as VMware and Amazon, that data cannot flow directly between the two providers.

Just as network organizations need to implement a range of functionality to respond to the challenges associated with supporting the centralization of IT resources and the implementation of DR and BC, network organizations need to implement the functionality it takes to respond to the challenges associated with accessing SaaS and IaaS providers.  Silver Peak’s Unity responds to these challenges by supporting a new and unique level of intelligence about cloud services and a deep understanding of SaaS applications combined with a wide range of management, security and optimization functionality.  For more information, visit Silver Peak’s Unity product information page.

About the author
Jim Metzler
Jim has a broad background in the IT industry. This includes serving as a software engineer, an engineering manager for high-speed data services for a major network service provider, a product manager for network hardware, a network manager at two Fortune 500 companies, and the principal of a consulting organization. In addition, Jim has created software tools for designing customer networks for a major network service provider and directed and performed market research at a major industry analyst firm. Jim’s current interests include both cloud networking and application and service delivery. Jim has a Ph.D. in Mathematics from Boston University.