Window on WANs

Jun 25 2010   4:41PM GMT

Application delivery: A WAN manager’s job requirement

Tessa Parmenter Tessa Parmenter Profile: Tessa Parmenter

Now that businesses have become more comfortable spreading offices across the globe, IT departments manage many more remote offices and mobile workers. As much as IT makes distances in the world feel smaller, no one is a miracle worker. The longer the distance, the longer traffic takes to send. However, users don’t seem privy to these physics; end users expect applications to work over the wide area network (WAN) at local area network (LAN) speeds.

Distance isn’t the only factor slowing down the WAN; the ongoing migration to Web-based applications, cloud computing and mobility hurt WAN application performance. Since slow applications slow business processes, company executives will notice the difference, and app delivery will suddenly become a top of mind issue for WAN managers.

Part of achieving acceptable application delivery is to think higher up the OSI model. Mark Fabbi, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner Inc., explains that “throwing more resources and throwing more money at Layer 2 and Layer 3 doesn’t make much difference [to applications].”

IT network professionals who traditionally work at the bottom of the OSI model may be uncomfortable dealing with the application layer. However, if you’re used to configuring WAN optimization controllers, you may be back in familiar territory.

Industry expert Jim Metzler explains that WAN optimization controllers can fix application delivery — just as they would optimize other traffic across the WAN. Well, maybe not exactly the same way. Metzler’s application delivery 2.0 guide highlights how to use WAN optimization controllers to optimize particular applications. You can use them to do the following:

There’s no reason all the application delivery work should rest on you though. Network pros can talk to application development teams to make application traffic svelte to start. If it’s too late for that, then talking to your carrier about application SLAs and agile QoS may be another option.

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