WAN optimization is a collection of techniques for increasing data transfer efficiencies across wide-area networks (WANs). In 2008, the WAN optimization market was estimated to be $1 billion, and was to grow to $4.4 billion by 2014 according to Gartner, a technology research firm. In 2015 Gartner estimated the WAN optimization market to be a $1.1 billion market.
The most common measures of TCP data-transfer efficiencies (i.e., optimization) are throughput, bandwidth requirements, latency, protocol optimization, and congestion, as manifested in dropped packets. In addition, the WAN itself can be classified with regards to the distance between endpoints and the amounts of data transferred. Two common business WAN topologies are Branch to Headquarters and Data Center to Data Center (DC2DC). In general, "Branch" WAN links are closer, use less bandwidth, support more simultaneous connections, support smaller connections and more short-lived connections, and handle a greater variety of protocols. They are used for business applications such as email, content management systems, database application, and Web delivery. In comparison, "DC2DC" WAN links tend to require more bandwidth, are more distant, and involve fewer connections, but those connections are bigger (100 Mbit/s to 1 Gbit/s flows) and of longer duration. Traffic on a "DC2DC" WAN may include replication, back up, data migration, virtualization, and other Business Continuity/Disaster Recovery (BC/DR) flows.
WAN optimization has been the subject of extensive academic research almost since the advent of the WAN. In the early 2000s, research in both the private and public sectors turned to improving the end-to-end throughput of TCP, and the target of the first proprietary WAN optimization solutions was the Branch WAN. In recent years, however, the rapid growth of digital data, and the concomitant needs to store and protect it, has presented a need for DC2DC WAN optimization. For example, such optimizations can be performed to increase overall network capacity utilization, meet inter-datacenter transfer deadlines, or minimize average completion times of data transfers. As another example, private inter-datacenter WANs can benefit optimizations for fast and efficient geo-replication of data and content, such as newly computed machine learning models or multimedia content.
Component techniques of Branch WAN Optimization include deduplication, wide area file services (WAFS), SMB proxy, HTTPS Proxy, media multicasting, web caching, and bandwidth management. Requirements for DC2DC WAN Optimization also center around deduplication and TCP acceleration, however these must occur in the context of multi-gigabit data transfer rates.
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F.A.Q. about WAN optimization
What Is WAN Optimization?
WAN optimization involves prioritizing specific parts of the network to receive more bandwidth. For example, you might want to allocate more throughput and bandwidth to the parts of the network involved in a critical data-processing task, to make sure it’s completed quickly. Many WAN improvements can be accomplished with either physical or logical changes to your network.
Why Is WAN Optimization Important?
Businesses are increasingly facing pressures on their WAN setups due to increased use of cloud computing, applications, and other network-wide technologies such as web portals. The associated increase in traffic across the WAN makes WAN optimization even more important, as network slowdowns can become a major issue if you don’t proactively manage this complexity and volume.
Numerous different business processes are affected by a slow network. Even simple actions, like employees accessing files, can become unacceptably slow. If the network is dragging, it might take their business-wide file manager a while to load, and then even longer to open the file. Even though it seems like a small, two-minute task, these problems quickly add up.
Meanwhile, admins may have trouble effectively managing and monitoring their network — and ensuring network security — if they’re fighting against inefficient, high-latency network infrastructure. WAN optimization can potentially allow admins — and their software tools — to more effectively protect all devices and end-users.
WAN optimization also supports remote and mobile workers. When someone works remotely, they’re expanding the WAN and requiring business data to travel further. Without WAN optimization, their connection could be slow. Even simple business processes such as email can become inconvenient to use. If the network is optimized correctly, all employees will be able to access network portals and business information, even if they’re connecting remotely.
Furthermore, even applications not directly affected by optimization processes can benefit when bandwidth is freed up in relation to other parts of the network. All these benefits increase business efficiency and promote cost savings as a result.