Wide-area network (WAN) optimization, also known as WAN acceleration, refers to all the methods, techniques, and technologies used to increase the performance of a wide-area network. WAN optimization is essentially used to boost signal strength, amplify the efficiency, and accelerate data transfers across a WAN. It is considered one of the major aspects of network management as it holds the potential to increase efficiency even in older, legacy wide-area networks. WAN optimization techniques can be used to reduce the bandwidth needed to carry out the tasks over a network. They also make it easy for an enterprise to easily and effectively scale-up the network and its operations.
A wide-area network gradually slows down over time. Several reasons such as transfer of bulky data, heavy resource consuming jobs, applications without a limit on bandwidth usage, misconfigurations, hardware issues are few among the various reasons that affect a WAN. Handling these kinds of issues in a WAN is of utmost importance. And all the essential techniques, tools, methods, right configurations, and more you use to deal with these issues are considered an integral part of WAN optimization.
Here are some of the crucial methods for organizations to use to tackle WAN optimization.
Web caching is an effective means for enhancing the quality of services in various technologies and solutions. Caching can also prove to be a very effective solution to enhance WAN performance. A well-designed caching mechanism over a wide-area network can very effectively reduce the traffic over the network while improving the access time to the websites. Caching in-network applications including WAN should be used to reduce latency as well as network traffic.
Caching can be employed both locally on a network peripheral like a router or can be configured on a server directly. Caching is a very efficient means of avoiding redundant data requests while resorting to sending only the changes made over a network.
Manage data on the network
Often, a large portion of bandwidth is consumed by huge data transfers over a network. Organizations should restrict transferring entire data over the network. Instead, sending over the address locations where the data is residing can prove out to be very beneficial in terms of reducing the network load. Transmitting references of the data being sent over a network can avoid sending redundant or duplicate data transfers over the network, saving a lot of bandwidth. This results in a better and more efficient WAN.
In a WAN, the number of network transactions made is normally pretty high. All the devices connected in a network act either as a sender or as a receiver of a transaction. And with a larger number of devices increasing in a WAN, the number of transactions also increases exponentially. This leads to network congestion, affecting the entire WAN.
Grouping of similar transactions can be a very easy yet effective means of tackling network congestion. If all the transactions are grouped according to certain policy such as priority, these transactions can be handled well. Grouping transactions can also help in streamlining the entire network and all the network protocols including the transactions.
Buffering is not a new concept and has been around for quite a while. Buffering is used in various domains including software, IT, and even production lines. Buffers in a network will allow it to store certain information about a data transaction. These buffers in a WAN can help reduce a huge amount of network footprints a network transaction leaves behind. This not only decreases the latency in the network but will also enable more efficient communication.
Benefits of WAN optimization
The foremost advantage of WAN optimization is it saves a lot of money for organizations. Companies across the globe utilizing WAN spend huge amounts on hardware to increase the bandwidth and capacity of a WAN. However, with few proper measures and configurations, money can be saved while achieving better speeds and reliability over a WAN.
Better network speeds
With reduced or controlled traffic over WAN, the congestion on the networks is reduced. And with these WAN optimization methods, better network speeds can be achieved over a WAN.
WAN optimization increases network speeds, which means less latency and quicker transactions. This also leads to quicker and more efficient file accessibility. Both communicating parties within a WAN can send or receive data over the network at much faster rates. WAN optimization techniques such as caching allow devices in the network to utilize the same files repeatedly without having to reload and transmit the original data.
Latency and costs for network bandwidth are the major issues for businesses using WANs. Using the WAN optimization techniques above, organizations can shape the bandwidth traffic and bandwidth consumption by avoiding frequent data loads. Optimized bandwidth leads to reduced costs and more efficient and better network utilization.
WAN optimization directly or indirectly affects all businesses both small and large that run on a wide-area network. Considering the numerous benefits and cost savings associated with WAN optimization, there are several third-party companies providing services to optimize WANs. However, with proper measures and with the right set of tools and knowledge, an organization can easily fine-tune their networks on their own.