Kevin F. R. Suitor is vice president, marketing of Exinda, which is a global supplier of traffic shaping & WAN optimization products.
The modern enterprise is increasingly dependent on its networking infrastructure. While CIOs are centralizing their data centers to afford them more control and greater security, users are involved in operations that are more widely dispersed and require a wider variety of applications.
This means that while the CIO is trying to exercise tighter control over the corporate wide-area network (WAN), users are expecting looser controls and the ability to access anything, anywhere, anytime with scant regard for security or the impact on network performance. Look into the usage logs of most corporations today and you will find hours spent on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, for example.
This usage is expensive. Research in the UK, sponsored by MyJobGroup.com, polled 1,000 British workers and found that nearly 6% or 2 million of Britain’s workforce of 34 million spent over one hour per day on social media while at work. The study further concluded that social media networks could potentially be costing Britain up to $22.16 billion.
The solution CIOs desire is a fully integrated single platform that delivers complete WAN optimization capabilities, the insight to allow management to keep its eye on exactly what traffic is traversing the network, and the flexibility to dynamically optimize it when and if required. What are the requirements for such a platform?
There are three components that form the pillars of a next generation WAN optimization approach. Together, they provide Unified Performance Management (UPM) – Visibility, Control and Optimization. These elements comprise the core capabilities, when integrated into a single network appliance, which allow an IT team to effectively manage the WAN. With a UPM solution in place, assumptions about network traffic give way to facts, and decisions can be based on knowledge rather than well-intentioned guesses. Let’s look at each pillar in turn.
This pillar operates at Layer 7 of the network, providing insight into all network activity, usage and performance. It provides CIOs with all the user and application information they need to monitor overall network developments and track their organization’s key performance indicators. Exinda’s UPM solution provides managers with in-depth reports and dashboards on network traffic, empowering them to rapidly take action to improve network performance and the user experience and to optimize productivity.
This pillar allows CIOs to optimize network resources via comprehensive control over network traffic. Users can plan congestion management policies based on the granular insight provided by the Visibility Engine, and then use the same dashboards to demonstrate the positive end user impact of those policies. For the most accurate view of the state of the network, data is obtained by collecting and reconciling Data Records across the network at the WAN demarcation points. WAN management can be done from a high level to shape and prioritise general network traffic, or it can be controlled at the user level should specific users have unique job requirements. Marketing staff, for example, may require open access to social media sites to do their jobs effectively.
The third pillar is optimization. Knowing what is happening on your network is irrelevant if you can’t change it. CIOs therefore need the tools to optimize the flow of traffic according to the company’s requirements. This empowers them to rapidly take action to intelligently accelerate certain applications to improve network performance when necessary.
With these three pillars integrated into an easy-to-use next generation WAN optimization appliance, CIOs are able to minimize the time spent managing the WAN while optimising the transmission of business traffic. Not only will this optimize the user experience, it will improve productivity by ensuring that the applications and data they need are immediately at hand while recreational distractions are not.
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