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Cloud computing adoption requires WAN optimization controllers to improve application traffic

Cloud computing adoption creates additional application traffic across the wide area network (WAN).

Cloud computing adoption creates additional application traffic across the wide area network (WAN). In order for IT organization end users to access a heavily trafficked cloud without delay and without creating security vulnerabilities, a WAN optimization controller (WOC) should be deployed. Learn in this tip how WOCs are used in private and public cloud computing environments and how virtual WOCs will change the WOC market.

Cloud computing adoption's effects on application traffic

The goal of cloud computing is a significant improvement in the cost-effective, elastic provisioning of IT services. As a result, two of the key characteristics of private cloud computing are the further consolidation of servers into centralized data centers and the virtualization of those servers. Because of the consolidation and virtualization of servers, the deployment of private cloud computing results in additional application traffic transiting the WAN. In an analogous fashion, a key component of public cloud computing is that IT organizations will access IT resources such as applications and storage from one or more third parties. Hence, as IT organization increase both private and public cloud computing adoption solutions, the wide area network will be involved in an increasing percentage of instances when users access applications and storage. This increased use of the WAN creates additional security vulnerabilities that add to the value of having a WAN optimization controller (WOC) that tightly integrates with security functionality. Accessing storage resources over the WAN will increase the need for IT organizations to implement functionality that optimizes the transfer of large blocks of storage.

In the case of private cloud computing adoption, this increased use of the WAN to access IT resources results in the need for IT organizations to implement WOCs in their data centers and their remote offices. In the case of public cloud computing, this will drive the need for both the IT organization and the public cloud providers to implement WOCs. However, since WOCs are proprietary, both the IT organization and the public cloud provider must implement WOCs from the same vendor. This need is just one factor driving the trend to have both traditional network service providers and cloud computing service providers offer WOC functionality as part of the overall service that is being delivered to the customer. Whether provided as part of a private or public cloud computing solution, Application Delivery 2.0 WOCs will need to scale to support significantly more throughput and more sessions than Application Delivery 1.0 WOCs.

Cloud computing adoption introduces virtual WAN accelerators

One of the concepts that is typically associated with cloud computing adoption is the dynamic provisioning of virtual machines. While this might sound like a simple concept, it is not. In particular, if IT organizations are going to successfully provision virtual machines dynamically, they also need to be able to dynamically provision all of the supporting infrastructure, including WOCs. This is not possible with the traditional hardware-based appliance. The ability to dynamically provision WOCs requires the deployment of virtual WAN accelerators in the data center.

One of the potential downsides of a virtual WAN optimization controller is performance. The conventional wisdom in our industry is that a solution based on dedicated, purpose-built hardware performs better than a solution in which software is ported to a generic piece of hardware, particularly if that hardware is supporting multiple applications. Conventional wisdom is often wrong, however. IT organizations need to test the performance of a virtual WOC in their environment prior to determining whether a virtual WOC is an appropriate solution.

Virtual WOCs have the potential to disrupt the WAN optimization controller market. For example, an advantage of virtual WOCs is that it is notably easier to download a virtual WOC than it is to ship a traditional hardware-based appliance. This means that it is possible for WOC vendors to let users download and use a virtual WOC free of charge for some period of time. The motivation to do this on the part of the WOC vendor is that if the WOC improves network and application performance, the user is in a position to build the business case to acquire the WOC. In addition, it is reasonable to expect that in 2010, at least some of the WAN optimization controller vendors that have a small market share will aggressively price their virtual WOCs as a way to gain market share. This will put pressure on the WOC vendors that have a significant market share to respond.

Continue reading this guide to learn how WAN optimization controllers are used in Application Delivery 2.0:

Jim Metzler Jim Metzler

About the author:
Dr. Jim Metzler, principal at Ashton Metzler and Associates, is a widely recognized authority on network technology and its business applications. In more than 28 years of experience, Jim has helped numerous vendors refine product and service strategies and has helped enterprises evolve network infrastructures. He has directed and conducted market research at a major industry analyst firm and run a consulting firm. Jim holds a Ph.D. in numerical analysis from Boston University. He is co-author of the book Layer 3 Switching: A Guide for IT Professionals (Prentice Hall).

This was last published in June 2010

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