Governments Optimize WAN Traffic

Whether it’s to handle expanding voice and video applications or the influx of devices in the workplace, governments turn to WAN optimization tools to boost performance.

When the city of Richmond, Calif., rolled out a Voice over Internet Protocol system three years ago, WAN optimization tools complemented that deployment.

Henry Lei, network manager for Richmond, says the IT staff was concerned that the VoIP traffic wouldn’t work properly due to bandwidth constraints. Even the larger offices had only 6 megabits per second of bandwidth for 40 computers and 40 phones. “We needed something that could help us manage both voice and data traffic over the same network at the limited bandwidth we had available,” he says. “People were complaining that our old T1 lines were slow.”

The solution was to deploy 10 Exinda WAN optimization devices, including a mix of Series 8000, 6000, 4000 and 2000 equipment. By caching http traffic and setting policies for YouTube and other web and database traffic, the Exinda devices stabilized the network so that city workers could more easily bring up documents and connect to the wireless and remote access networks, Lei says.

30% The percentage of survey respondents who encountered challenges in delivering latency-sensitive applications such as VoIP and video to remote locations

SOURCE: “The Evolution of WAN Optimization” (Enterprise Strategy Group, February 2012)

In the past few months, the city upgraded its Internet connection to 100Mbps and installed a mix of Cisco Systems Catalyst 3560 and 3750 switches. Lei says even with the added bandwidth, the Exinda WAN optimization tools are necessary because they help the IT staff reduce network latency.

“We also use the Exinda gear to slow down and even remove peer-to-peer traffic,” Lei says. “We don’t want LimeWire traffic traversing the network, so we’ll just drop that traffic.”

Upping Optimization a Notch

Bob Laliberte, senior analyst for the Enterprise Strategy Group, says IT departments also find that there’s simply more applications for them to accelerate today.

“WAN optimization almost became ubiquitous as organizations looked to improve the performance of data traffic from remote offices to main data centers,” says Laliberte. “Today, organizations are using WAN optimization to ensure a quality experience for a new wave of applications, from Microsoft SharePoint to video traffic, desktop virtualization apps and other cloud applications.”

Although Laliberte’s assessment rings true for many enterprise organizations, some states and localities are examining WAN optimization for the first time.

Jack Harris, director of network services strategy and development for the state of Michigan, says identity management, video traffic and the expanding number of Wi-Fi and smart devices have driven discussion about WAN optimization solutions.

“We’ve actually avoided it. We just got better pricing with WAN bandwidth and increasing quality of service,” says Harris, who’s responsible for managing traffic for 850 locations statewide. However, this strategy has become inadequate for today’s network traffic. Harris says the IT department plans to issue a request for a proposal this year for a full range of managed services, including WAN optimization.

For more about WAN optimization product capabilities, see "WAN Optimization Products Change with the Times."

Dec 18 2012