After California wildfires came close to San Diego County’s data centers, the county had its outsourcing provider move them to Tulsa, Okla., and Plano, Texas.
Not long after the relocation, users complained about network performance. Applications and downloads were slow, and users experienced a great deal of latency, Enterprise Architect Michael Proctor says. The solution was to deploy Riverbed Steelhead WAN optimization devices at each data center and the county’s core network site to optimize email, SharePoint, Microsoft Office and other standard business applications.
“Right now, about 50 percent of the traffic is optimized, but we want to get it up to 80 percent,” Proctor says. In addition to improving network performance, San Diego County now manages bandwidth more efficiently for some 17,000 users.
“Our traffic has tripled over the past three to five years, but we have not had to increase our bandwidth,” Proctor says. “We just realized we needed to optimize the traffic or watch the end user experience deteriorate and the county staff become less productive.”
Bob Laliberte, a senior analyst for the Enterprise Strategy Group, says San Diego County had a common need for WAN optimization. “For the county, it was all about optimizing the links they already had,” Laliberte says. “Plus, they were able to mitigate a risk. Optimization let them locate their data centers remotely while at the same time improving performance even though the network was running at a greater distance.”
WAN Optimization Helps Governments Work Smarter
Carol Lynn Roddy, interim systems administrator for the Montgomery County Library & Information Network Consortium in Pennsylvania, says the county wants to optimize WANs as part of a total network upgrade for 33 library facilities.
“We’re looking at cloud-based options, better DNS management and traffic shaping,” Roddy says, adding that the county needs to address the slow performance of the network between 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. on any given business day.
Along with handling general business traffic (mainly the inventory control system), the library system must offer public-access computers and filter that traffic. “There’s a strong demand for public access, and we have to find a better way of managing the bandwidth we have,” Roddy says. “We can’t continue to throw bandwidth at things and expect it to be the whole answer.”
Montgomery County just completed the first round of an RFP and opted to hire a consultant to help it work through the selection process.
3 Considerations for Mobile WAN Optimization
As wireless devices proliferate in organizations, IT departments need to develop a strategy to manage bandwidth for mobile applications. Gartner Vice President and Distinguished Analyst Mark Fabbi offers three considerations for IT managers seeking to optimize mobile traffic.
- Identify which applications are mission-critical. Figure out which apps bog down the network or degrade user productivity. Start by developing a priority list of the mobile applications that are absolutely needed to improve performance.
- Determine the type of users involved. Does the organization need a product that can manage traffic for users in remote offices or for those who are mainly at home using a notebook computer? Or perhaps there’s a mix of tablets, smartphones and notebooks. The answers to these questions will determine which product manufacturer the organization chooses.
- Perform a proof of concept. Understand that mobile WAN optimization offers some important gains, but it may not deliver the complete benefits IT departments see with traditional WAN optimization devices. Once the IT staff comes up with a list of priority applications, conduct real-world tests to determine if mobile WAN optimization improves performance enough to justify the investment.