WAN Optimization is the MVP of the Game

I realize it’s only Spring, but it’s hard not to talk about football when you’ve got all kinds of NFL news breaking, like New Orleans Saints’ coach Sean Payton getting suspended, Tim Tebow going to the Jets and can’t-miss, future Hall of Famer Peyton Manning going to the best team in the league (selfish disclaimer: I’m a Denver Broncos fan in case you missed it).

Let’s look at a common scenario in football. It’s the fourth quarter of the game. In the final minutes, the quarterback barks out the signals, takes the hike, and heaves a Hail Mary pass 50 yards down field into the end zone. The star receiver dives for the ball and gets his fingertips on it, but the ball falls incomplete just before he lands chest-first on the turf.

The event I just described can make the difference between winning and losing a game like it did for the Patriots in this year’s Super Bowl. We all want to be winners, whether we’re playing a game of football, securing a new account in business or building a network that helps our company succeed.

I’m sure you’ve never thought about it before, but there are many similarities between WAN optimization and football. To transcend the “dropped ball” syndrome, data center WAN optimization overcomes dropped and out-of-order packets going over long distance networks by using techniques such as Forward Error Correction (FEC) and Packet Order Correction (POC) to improve data quality and enable successful transactions.

If you think about performance, the faster and taller wide receivers usually win over the slower and smaller cornerbacks and safeties. The same holds true for WAN optimization; the faster and more efficient WANop solutions out-perform less efficient and lower-performance WANop devices.

Scalability and Football

You also may not have considered a football team’s ability to scale. If you look at the quarterback, for example, he has the ability to visualize the entire field and quickly make “check downs” – split-second decisions determining whether his primary, secondary or tertiary receiver is the most open and gives him the best chance at a completed pass. The point here is that as a quarterback gains experience completing passes, his decision-making abilities scale upward.

Similarly, WAN optimization appliances “scale the field” and leverage local disks to ensure the best data reduction performance over the longest period of time. Storing a single instance of information for every office that is connected to the WANop appliance will provide much greater storage capacity over solutions that require a separate instance for each individual WAN connection.

WAN optimizers for large data centers that support hundreds-of-thousands of flows in a single appliance allow for substantially higher “fan-in” to the data center and provide support for thousands of simultaneous sessions. WAN optimizers that provide emulation on multiple flows are able to overcome flow-shaping disciplines that limit bandwidth allocated on a single flow (e.g., Weighted Fair Queuing).

Management and Control

Can you imagine a successful team without superior management and a great coaching staff? Forget about it! Without great coaching to guide and lead the team, the players will fumble, lose focus and, ultimately, fail to succeed.

Management and control are essential for a great WANop solution, too. Access Control Lists (ACLs) and other authentication policies are vital in the administration of WAN optimizers so they can be centrally configured and have their policies enforced. WAN optimizers that automatically download key configuration settings such as IP addresses, QoS policies, optimization instructions, and predefined configurations simplify deployment and reduce configuration errors.

If you like winning and if performance, scalability and management are important to your network, your Most Valuable Player is WAN optimization.