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What Is WAN Optimization?
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What is WAN Optimization?

While there are many different WAN optimization technologies, this article will focus on WAN optimization appliances that manage network traffic, provide load balancing and redundancy. These appliances benefit businesses by increasing user productivity through network efficiency, optimizing WAN bandwidth, and providing uninterrupted network availability.

These appliances intelligently monitor and direct network traffic over available WAN links to optimize WAN bandwidth and reduce network congestion which ensures consistent connection and performance. Multiple low-cost WAN links may be aggregated for additional bandwidth or used solely for redundancy. If a WAN link is detected to be down, traffic is automatically redirected which prevents an impact on normal business operation.

Application visibility tools improve performance by providing information to determine the best performing path. In the event the preferred path has an issue, network traffic will be re-routed to a better performing path until the problem is resolved.

Quality of Service (QoS) is typically a feature offered by optimization appliances in addition to load balancing and redundancy. These appliances identify critical network traffic then prioritize and manage the bandwidth allocated for use by business applications. This allows control over network traffic flow and allows users and applications to receive appropriate amount of network resources for their needs.

Server load balancing or disaster recovery services may be provided, depending on the appliance. By testing responsiveness of local resources, the optimization appliance can detect status of servers and redirect inbound traffic to operational servers if the primary server is experiencing an outage. If an entire site is detected to be down, traffic is redirected to a disaster recovery facility to ensure users continue to have access to resources.

Reporting features record the number of detected WAN outages as well as total downtime. Instances and duration of network congestion are also reported. This information is sent periodically to the IT staff, network administrator, or business manager and illustrates the cost savings from automated WAN fail over and load balancing instead of relying on a single WAN link.

Tools may also be provided for the network administrator or IT staff to understand how network resources are currently being used. This information can be used to make educated decisions regarding future impact on the network by additional users or applications. Additionally, network utilization statistics can help illustrate current and help predict future bandwidth requirements.

WAN optimization appliances provide various features that aim to optimize the network by prioritizing traffic, increasing efficiency, and keeping the network available. These features include bandwidth aggregation, automatic WAN failover, QoS, disaster recovery, and reporting tools that inform and empower the network administrator and IT staff.


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