Window on WANs

Nov 21 2012   10:56AM GMT

How to speed up a slow network protocol

Tessa Parmenter Tessa Parmenter Profile: Tessa Parmenter

All network protocols were not created equal; nor were they designed for every network type in mind. When it comes to the wide area network (WAN), any issue with a protocol, no matter how small, is magnified as it traverses the great lengths of a wide area.

Take Network File System (NFS) or Common Internet File System (CIFS), for example. These file protocols are extremely latency-sensitive and function poorly over a WAN. TCP/IP (Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol) is certainly not exempt from these inefficiencies.

WAN optimization expert Henry Svendblad explains it this way:

TCP has blunt flow-management algorithms: If the network or the receiver can’t handle the speed at which the sender is working, as indicated by packet loss, timeouts or an excess of out-of-order packets, the network flow will drop to half that rate. Speeds ramp up again, but more slowly than the first time.

Fortunately, IT professionals can take these steps outlined by Svendblad to thrwart slow speeds over a WAN.

For TCP optimization:

  • Get smart about congestion and use a WAN optimizer that can change ramping behaviors to prevent congestion in the first place.
  • Think about network priority and shape network traffic to control how bandwidth is consumed.
  • Keep TCP out of the way of UDP traffic, like VoIP and video, to ensure priority of these real-time applications.

For file protocol optimization:

  • Consider upgrading to current versions of your enterprise applications that use these more efficient Web protocols.
  • Consider using WAN optimizers to shape traffic and control how limited bandwidth is used.
  • Use a WAN optimizer to speed up file transfers with compression, caching and prefetching techniques.

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