The WAN has become the lifeblood of today’s global enterprise. Without these vital connections between the headquarters, data centers and remote site locations, businesses lose access to critical data and applications. With the migration to the cloud, they stand to lose even more functionality if their networks falter. Ironically, cloud delivery now is making optimizing the WAN simpler and more cost effective with WAN optimization as-a-service.
The vast majority of enterprises are decentralized locally, nationally and often globally, with distributed offices and workforces that require constant connectivity. Most commonly, CIOs of these modern enterprises centralize their IT assets to achieve economies of scale, control and security. Centralized data and applications may be hosted at corporate headquarters, central data centers or at software-as-a-service providers.
However, this centralization of data and applications poses problems linked to security issues and the high volumes of data accessed across global WAN links. These problems include high cost, poor performance in terms of both bandwidth and latency, poor visibility across branches and complex management of acceleration and security equipment between branches, headquarters and data centers.
The public Internet, while widely used by consumers and enterprises, is not a reliable means of communication. Internet-based communication has a very low quality of service and is generally inadequate for business use. In order to solve this problem, corporations buy private links to connect their distributed branches with their corporate applications. The most commonly used private link network, Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS), switches packets based on adding labels and provides predictable characteristics over a variety of topologies. Despite the advantages of private networks like MPLS, both data transport and application execution still suffer from latency, bandwidth restrictions and poor network visibility.
Over the past decade, the network performance problem for enterprises has been partially addressed by a number of WAN optimization controller (WOC) vendors that perform application acceleration and WAN optimization functions using hardware appliances placed at the headquarters and/or branch ends of the network.