Is your WAN caught in a Catch-22?

WAN-Catch-22You may or may not remember “Catch-22,” the novel published in 1961 by Joseph Heller. Since then, Catch-22 has become a term generally used to describe a “no-win situation,” in which there is no positive outcome from any decision you make. Whether due to unavoidable or unforeseeable circumstances — or outside influences — Catch-22 situations are never fun.

When it comes to your organization’s wide area network (WAN), you may be facing a Catch-22 situation right now. In managing your WAN infrastructure, you may be challenged because of efforts to consolidate your data centers in the interest of lowering costs and complexity.

With data center consolidation in particular, not only do you have to consolidate the equipment of two sites into one single location, but you’re also now faced with more network traffic in and out of the newly consolidated data center.  The result? Users may complain about slow applications, and the network that you count on to deliver your applications becomes unreliable.

Don’t Be a Victim

Let’s examine the common solutions to this problem: One the one hand, you can add more bandwidth, but this can get extremely expensive–even cost-prohibitive for all but the largest of corporations.  But let’s be honest, you can chase your tail adding bandwidth.

Depending on your environment, you may be bringing more servers online to support the added traffic, as well as adding applications to support the data center consolidation initiative, some of which may be more impacted by WAN quality than WAN bandwidth.  VDI comes to mind.

WAN Optimization to the Rescue!

Fortunately, WAN optimization appliances can help you avoid a Catch-22 situation in your data center consolidation efforts. WANop solutions help alleviate bandwidth congestion by reducing the amount of traffic that goes across the network using a combination of data compression, de-duplication and transmission optimization technologies. Additional quality of service (QoS) technologies can be used to make application delivery more reliable when traversing networks that are not directly under your control. In some cases, WAN optimization can result in a 20:1 reduction in traffic and a 10:1 reduction in WAN costs.

The benefits of WAN optimization don’t stop there. If you’re replicating data between your newly consolidated data center and a disaster recovery (DR) site, WAN optimization can be a huge lifesaver. You may have hundreds of gigabytes of data residing in distributed file systems, distributed databases, cloud computing platforms, or scalable storage systems. And due to the inherent nature of large volumes of data, and the distance between sites, data replication without WAN optimization can either be impossible to carry out, or can be a nightmare to manage and support.

Using WAN optimization, you are better positioned to support a data center consolidation project or support the addition of a disaster recovery site using either your existing WAN infrastructure, or investing in a lower-cost, lower quality WAN.

If your company has experienced similar challenges, or is currently wrestling with these issues, we’d like to hear from you. Please feel free to share your experiences.