From the beginning of mankind, water has been the key factor in this convergence. When it comes to transportation, traveling over water can be more efficient than going over land. Because lakes, rivers, canals, and oceans have always been important for transporting people and supplies, civilizations have always been established close to water.
But it is the interconnected network of coastal and inland ports, railways, air transportation, and trucking routes that has become the true underpinning of economic growth throughout the world.
In the twentieth century, network communications took global economic convergence to the next level. Today, in the twenty-first century, these global communication networks continue to change markets — opening up many new industries, greatly expanding customer reach, and enabling amazing efficiencies. Virtually every business depends on these networks for commerce and communications.
With all the immense changes that water, land, air transportation, and network communications have brought us, there have always been inhibitors along the way. There are myriad factors that obstruct transportation, such as bad weather that prohibits ships, trucks and airplanes from reaching their destinations on time; snarled highways that slow traffic; and technology and human errors that cause things to break down.
Sometimes even the transportation sources themselves get in the way. For example, political conflicts can disrupt strategic canals, highways get damaged and need repair, bridges come down, rivers swell over their banks, and ice floes and icebergs obstruct shipping lanes – delaying transit and creating hazards.
Communication networks also have their problems. There are many examples, such as greater-than-planned-for user traffic that causes bottlenecks, excessive data that slows network performance, applications that take control over the majority of bandwidth and leave little or no bandwidth for other applications, and long distances that cause packets to be delayed or lost.
Unfortunately, there is little we can do to overcome bad weather conditions that obstruct transportation. We haven’t fared much better in managing our roads and highways. We try to divert traffic, add more lanes, time traffic signals, create commuter lanes, and build more roads and highways to alleviate congestion. But traffic bottlenecks still abound.
Fortunately, we have managed to do better with our vital communication networks. While many organizations still struggle to keep up with the growing demand put on their networks, there are many highly effective solutions available that really do help.
WAN optimizers are specialized devices that are quite capable of alleviating network congestion caused by excessive data, easing the poor network quality which bandwidth-hogging applications create, and reducing the ill-effects caused by the long distances networks span.
Whether they are accelerating the transfer of data between data centers, branch offices, or the cloud, WAN optimizers resolve network quality issues caused by congestion and distance challenges. They fully leverage existing bandwidth so more users and applications can be supported, and users can download files and connect to websites faster. These solutions enable strategic IT projects such as disaster recovery, business continuity, data center consolidation, data center virtualization, and the movement and migration of big data between data centers.
The increased deployments of virtualization to address the high costs associated with bulging and complex data center infrastructure, and dynamic workflow processes and shrinking physical real-estate have caused enterprises to look for software alternatives to hardware-constrained WAN optimizers. Redeploying a legacy, hardware-based WAN optimizer can be as difficult as trying to move an iceberg in the middle of a shipping lane. On the other hand, software or virtual WAN optimizers can save costs and offer greater flexibility by installing them on existing server, router, or storage devices. If more performance is needed, upgrading the virtual WAN optimizer software license is a snap. IT personnel can quickly and easily move virtual WAN optimizers to other locations to support the movement of big data from the primary data center to a secondary site, or to support a new branch office.
Just as new technologies are improving transportation efficiency, reducing delays, providing greater access to transportation alternatives, and providing customized routes based on real-time traffic conditions, new technologies within virtual WAN optimizers are improving the performance of vital networks that run today’s global economy.
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