Window on WANs

May 8 2012   12:33PM GMT

Applications are selfish, Blue Coat claims at Interop 2012

Tessa Parmenter Tessa Parmenter Profile: Tessa Parmenter

LAS VEGAS — “Applications are selfish,” according to Blue Coat’s Senior Director of Corporate Communications Steve Schick, and Mark Urban, Senior Director of Product Marketing. They take up an incredible amount of bandwidth whenever they want to, no matter the cost. Applications have no regard for whatever else is on the network, they said in a one-on-one interview with at Interop Las Vegas.

Network monitoring graph
Enlarge diagram

Urban compares applications to children who only know about themselves, not how to function in the greater society of a network. “It’s all about them,” he says. So when an Apple iTunes update comes along (diagram shown left), it will take up your entire WAN link, causing problems for the rest of your business critical applications.

To be fair, that behavior is not necessarily the fault of the application or application developer, Urban says. After all, an application is only fending for itself to give end users the best experience possible. It’s up to the network manager to figure out which applications need priority over others in the context of their corporate bottom line.

But prioritizing WAN applications  — turning to quality of service (QoS) — is often not the first step an IT pro will take. Insteand, network professionals will turn to optimization first.

“It’s politically easier to optimize everything,” says Urban. This takes the responsibility off the IT pro to decide exactly which application must take priority. But more than that, IT pros frankly don’t know what is running across the WAN. Without the application visibility tools, there’s no way to know what you need to prioritize.

Visibility up to this point has been through packet capture applications or monitoring ports to know, for example, how much traffic is going out to the Internet. That’s all well and good, but network pros need a content view; they need to know which applications are going out to the Internet; are employees using YouTube?

The second step is to “contain applications when there’s contention on the network,” Urban says, once caching technologies have been put in place.

So WAN optimization must evolve from the simple caching techniques from days of yore to incorporate the visibilty and monitoring solutions so desperately needed across massive WANs.

View all our Interop 2012 conference coverage from Las Vegas.

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