Gold Rush

Infrastructure won the Gold Rush

Gold Rush“The desire of gold is not for gold. It is for the means of freedom and benefit.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Last week I wrote about discovering the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, and I did my best to relate it to cloud computing and WAN optimization. Today, I’m going to attempt another gold analogy. Maybe I’m thinking about gold because of the economy. Or, maybe I just like it. Who doesn’t?

Anyway, I’m sure you know about the famous California Gold Rush of the mid- 1800’s.  At that time, a somewhat well-off man named Captain John Sutter obtained 60 miles of land in the Sacramento Valley. With the arrival of new immigrants, lumber was in demand and Sutter provided the funds to build a community sawmill. Early on the morning of January 24, 1848, while checking on a construction problem, James Marshall, one of Sutter’s carpenters, discovered a gold nugget. Word quickly spread, and gold seekers by the thousands rushed in, expecting to make their fortunes.

Since that time, California has grown from a small territory to one of the most economically powerful states in the Union – representing the 6th largest economy in the world.

When I think of the Internet and the technologies that enable it, I always think of the Gold Rush. The unfortunate reality of the California Gold Rush was that most gold seekers never got rich. In fact, one in five died by suicide, violence, or disease. Those who really flourished were the entrepreneurs that provided the infrastructure. The folks that provided the “picks and shovels” made most of the money.

Remember the Internet bubble. Not unlike the California Gold Rush that devastated many of the gold seekers, the Internet bubble resulted in many thousands of “Internet businesses” going under. Yet, the companies that provided the infrastructure to support these businesses flourished (e.g., WAN optimization solutions).

Today, virtually every organization relies on the Internet and its many web technologies to communicate with customers, conduct commerce, and share information. The massive Internet boom that began in the early 1990’s continues to grow exponentially. Networks and data centers have become so vital to organizations that, if they perform poorly, businesses suffer greatly.

WAN optimization appliances are the ultimate “pick and shovel” for today’s businesses. They are at the forefront of enabling IT organizations to gain control over network connections that they otherwise have little control over. It’s fitting that they are called “WAN Optimization Controllers” or WOCs.

Can you imagine if the 49ers had automation technology that could quickly excavate a thousand times more gold than doing it by hand, using the crude tools they had? That is essentially what WAN optimization appliances do for WAN connections. They make the WAN more reliable by correcting for packet loss, reducing the amount of bandwidth consumed by user traffic, applications, and network protocols, and allowing existing bandwidth to handle greater amounts of traffic. WAN optimization appliances decrease the amount of data going over the WAN to significantly improve application delivery performance. They also enable network administrators to control how much bandwidth is used for specific applications.

Our modern-day 49ers see what WAN optimization appliances are capable of accomplishing for WAN connections, quickly realizing how these devices reduce the amount of “dirt” (excess traffic), to allow more “gold” (bandwidth) to quickly come from their “excavation” (WAN infrastructure).

I think the quote at the top of this article says it all. Our “gold” is increased bandwidth and the advantages of  “freedom” and “benefit” come from having more bandwidth on existing WAN links and gaining faster delivery of applications with greater control over the network.