By Toby Makepeace, Technical Director, Netutils
In today’s digital society users expect to consume more and more rich media from multiple devices and whist internet connections are getting cheaper and speeds faster, you still need to make sure from a business perspective that the right users are using your internet pipe at the right time to access business critical applications.
The initial expectation with companies moving services to the cloud was that access would be quick and simple from any location. However most companies still have a number of office bound users who require access to these cloud applications from head office and expect the same network application performance.
At the same time, internet content has become more media rich. For example back in the day web designers would render sites with small graphics and fast loading text content that could easily work over a 56k modem link. Today’s users expect a richer experience and now we design our websites with a rich media focus to enhance user experience. A quick look at the BBC website and the number of videos available there will give you a snapshot of the appetite users have for visual content. And let’s face it the users in your enterprise are probably not just accessing business applications during office hours, many will certainly be hopping on and off social networking sites and possibly taking a peak at some of those BBC videos we mentioned earlier! The stats published recently on the BBC news website illustrate this nicely:
‘Sports fans will watch an average of 27 hours of coverage of the Olympic Games on TV this summer …That amounts to 97 minutes a day during the 17 days of London 2012.’
A proportion of those interviewed by pollsters YouGov said ‘…they planned to watch at least an hour a day of football or Olympics coverage in the workplace’. *
So, with more and more users trying to access rich content on your network how do you make sure that your business critical applications take priority at the right time?……WAN Optimisation.
WAN optimisation is no longer just about how to accelerate all traffic from one point to another, it’s now more intelligent, it still manages acceleration between the sites and datacentres, but now WAN Optimisation can ensure that the business critical connections between the sites and datacentres take priority over other non-business critical traffic; ensuring that your vital CRM update or backup is successful despite the fact that someone has started watching a film over the internet or is uploading a photo album to Facebook!
Therefore optimisation solutions now need to include application visibility (Deep Packet Inspection or DPI), and ideally some form of user visibility. Enterprises can learn from the service provider market place here. The service provider customer pays for a preferential service over the network for certain applications, in most cases video and gaming, whereas in the corporate world this should be the reverse; priority is likely to be for business critical applications like your CRM and customer facing applications. Another element to consider in the enterprise space is that whilst users are not paying for different levels of services your enterprise is likely to have higher priority users of higher priority applications. You don’t want to be the user responsible for the payroll run stalling because bandwidth in being consumed by users accessing non business critical applications, you want to make sure the users of the payroll system have priority access to the internet and the cloud/DC servers on the last Friday of the month!
So in today’s rich media world WAN optimisation deals not only with acceleration but visibility and control, visibility of the users and applications and control of who can use how much bandwidth and when. Particularly relevant now the Olympics are in full swing, but also in the future, as bandwidth spikes like those caused by users streaming video in the office may simply highlight weaknesses in your network that already exist.
Suggested further reading Exinda Edge White Paper
*Source BBC News