As has always been the case, the fast-paced evolution of the IT industry, and the seemingly daily creation of the next buzzword, sometimes blurs the lines between similar technologies, when in reality, they are actually quite distinct. Server Virtualization is not the same a Desktop Virtualization. They each address different issues, and add different value to an organization. The same is true for WAN Aggregation, WAN Optimization and WAN Virtualization.
The roles of WAN Aggregation, WAN Optimization and WAN Virtualization.
While they each can play a role in improving the edge connectivity of your organization, the issues they address, and how they accomplish those goals is very unique.
WAN Aggregation, sometimes referred to as “Link Load Balancing”, has been around for about 15 years, and deals primarily with the Internet facing connections of an organization. These are single ended solutions, which allow you to use multiple public connections to reach the Internet. Intelligent WAN Aggregators are designed to actively spread user’s outbound data sessions across the multiple Internet connections, and provide for automated failover in the event of a link outage. A full featured WAN Aggregator will also provide some form of inbound load balancing and failover, predominantly through the use of a DNS-driven feature set, which is one of the differentiators that separates them from Dual WAN routers/firewalls that can typically only handle outbound failover. WAN Aggregation is also a more affordable and easier to manage alternative to a BGP (Border Gateway Protocol) solution for small or midsized organizations.
When it comes to multi-campus or multi-site connectivity, organizations have for years turned to MPLS (Multiprotocol Label Switching) to link their offices together. MPLS historically provides reliable connections and offers some level of quality, but the tradeoff is that they are typically expensive and offer very limited bandwidth. Organizations saw the need to make the most of this limited and costly bandwidth, and the industry’s answer was WAN Optimization. One of the principles of WAN Optimization is to reduce the volume of traffic that needs to traverse between locations across the WAN. The two main methods used to accomplish this are compression and caching. Compression attempts to remove excess bytes from data traveling across the WAN (smaller packets), while caching is designed to store copies of information locally that are accessed frequently across the WAN (fewer packets).
WAN Optimization can benefit an enterprise network greatly, when it comes to reducing the repetitive use of bandwidth by applications that are accessing documents, images, and other files that can take advantage of caching or compression. However, they do not add much value to bandwidth-hungry, real-time applications, such as VDI, VoIP and streaming video, as there is no static data to cache, and the packets are usually already compressed as much as possible by the application itself. Furthermore, the remote network is still dependent on a single connection with limited bandwidth, so there is still a high probability of congestion and over-utilization, and the inevitability of a link outage that would cut off the remote network’s ability to connect to the data center and the Internet.
WAN Virtualization is an emerging technology that promises to eliminate those additional challenges faced by multi-site networks by allowing an organization to introduce bandwidth from multiple unique sources at each location to create a robust WAN fabric between remote networks and the datacenter that allows for a much larger pool of bandwidth, seamless uptime between locations and granular control of traffic flows between sites. It provides for an extremely reliable and predictable environment that is designed specifically for application performance, and provides the scalability and flexibility to tackle the new initiatives that IT organizations face with a distributed WAN environment.
For more information about WAN Virtualization or to schedule a demonstration of Ecessa’s WANworX WAN Virtualization technology, visit www.ecessa.com/wanworxwv, call Ecessa at 800.669-6242 or fill out the contact form below to schedule a consultation.
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