Governments Cut Costs and Boost Connection Speeds by Optimizing Networks

IT managers say mobility will play an important role in future bandwidth management strategies at agencies.

In Oakland County, Mich., there’s no question that county workers depend more than ever on their smartphones and tablets.

CIO Phil Bertolini says the county manages the increased traffic over its wireless network with BlueCoat PacketShaper devices. “We’ve found that if we restrict traffic right at the gate, we have more control over the network,” he says. “PacketShaper lets us prioritize the traffic. For example, video has a higher priority than a simple data transfer.”

Over the past several years, Oakland County has become a cloud network provider for many surrounding municipalities. As the number of government customers expands, Bertolini sees a time when he’ll deploy WAN optimization tools.

“I think we’ll use WAN optimization on our higher latency loads,” the CIO says. “For now, we have high-speed connections that don’t require that we use caching or compression to deliver our applications.”

Bob Laliberte, senior analyst for the Enterprise Strategy Group, says more IT organizations must factor in mobility as they move forward with their bandwidth management strategies.

“As workplaces become more mobile, IT managers will be asking many of the same questions as before, such as ‘How can we optimize the network and reduce operational costs?’” Laliberte says. “Only during this era, we will also have to look at applications people are running on their smartphones and tablets.”

26%

The percentage of IT managers who say WAN optimization is a priority

SOURCE: “The Evolving State of the Network” (Enterprise Strategy Group, December 2013)

Bandwidth Management: Can It Really Save $1 Million?

Rod Franklin, network manager for the Arizona Judicial Information Network, says the Cisco Systems WAAS appliances the agency runs can handle notebooks, but he hasn’t yet looked into the WAAS tools for smartphones or tablets.

“Most of our smartphones and tablets run over a Citrix VDI connection, and we do use some of the compression features in Citrix XenMobile,” says Franklin, who runs the AJIN for the judicial branch of state government.

Across the core network, Cisco WAAS offers some important benefits. For example, it enables AJIN to deliver training video files to remote devices at the courts around the states during off hours so users can access the videos during the day.

“We run on average about 1.5 times more data in 24 hours than we could without WAAS,” Franklin says. “Updates would not happen because of bandwidth constraints,” he says, adding that because the majority of the agency’s links are T1 speeds, they would need to double each in order to handle the same traffic they handle today.

Franklin estimates annual cost savings of $1 million from using Cisco WAAS.

Three Tips for the Mobile WAN

Organizations seeking to assess the impact of mobility on WAN bandwidth should heed these three recommendations from Bob Laliberte, senior analyst for the Enterprise Strategy Group:

  • Identify what runs over the WAN. Start by understanding how people are using applications across the WAN. Put the appropriate monitoring tools in place so that, as the number of employee-owned devices in the organization rises, the IT staff can better understand how that affects the network and production apps.

  • Leverage hybrid networks. As devices proliferate, organizations that use only dedicated or leased lines may reduce costs by using Internet connections only as backups. Most WAN optimization products can manage multiple links and provide QoS and failover protection.

  • Prioritize critical apps. Enact policies to restrict the use of nonproduction applications to keep all web and video apps that are run on smartphones and tablets from flooding the network.

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Mar 20 2014