Window on WANs

Aug 5 2009   1:23PM GMT

Pinpoint critical applications when mapping out a WAN plan

Tim Scannell Profile: TScannell

In the evolving world of WAN optimization, applications are the new currency in terms of buying into a system that can deliver top performance and is flexible enough to handle changing user demands.  Smart network designers will not only look very carefully at the types of applications that zip across a wired and wireless network, but also prioritize them according to their importance and “mission critical” makeup.

This is not always an easy task, especially if you are dealing with extensive networks that reach out to branch offices and remote users, as well as multiple service level agreements (SLAs).  It also becomes a daunting task since the natural tendency for users is to rate their most-used applications as the most critical – even though that may not necessarily be the case.  This can create problems if an organization is running tens of thousands of applications.  The trick is to zero in on the ones that are absolutely necessary, notes consultant Jim Metzler, vice president of Ashton, Metzler & Associates.   It is critical to narrow that range, he says.

In planning for new equipment additions or WAN upgrades, it is also makes sense to review the applications bouncing around on a network and select equipment based on the mission critical nature of your most key software.

This is exactly what the IT staff did at Performance Health Technology, Ltd. (PH Tech), a healthcare information services provider that specializes in providing up-to-date information on patient benefits and insurance coverage to doctor and hospital subscribers nationwide.  The company previously relied on T1 and a WiMAX connection, but ran into all sorts of reliability issues – some related to weather interference.  The solution was to install an Ecessa Corp. PowerLink WAN controller that could quickly route around faulty connection addresses and channels to find a reliable connection.

The idea is to keep the most important applications and data up and running, even when network issues create a roadblock.  This goes way beyond basic reliability, of course, since the health and welfare of critical networks have a direct impact on business continuity.

Over the next several weeks, SearchEnterpriseWAN will be looking closely at issues including  WAN reliability, fail-safe and contingency planning, specifically focusing on companies that have tackled these issues at the mission critical front lines.  These profiles show that pre-planning is crucial to developing and launching an effective network, and absolutely mandatory as companies rely more on unfaltering access to applications and data.

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