Before going to understand WAN accelerator, let’s try to understand what WAN is.
WAN Optimization Solutions
WAN, which stands for Wide Area Network is a telecommunications network. It gives the capacity to extend over a large geographical distance primarily for computer networking. WAN is usually established with leased telecommunication circuits.
A WAN accelerator is a kind of network product. It is designed to provide optimization and caching services. It can be network-based software, hardware, or a combination of both. It provides a suite of different services to speed up and enhance the end user’s experience. Also known as an application accelerator, optimizer or bandwidth accelerator, WAN accelerators majorly provide bandwidth optimization services by making use of available capacity to ensure maximum performance.
IT professionals do it by means of several techniques like compression, deduplication, and caching. Also, a WAN accelerator is designed to serve as an intermediate node or device between two or more different data centers or branch offices, which are connected via a wide area network. The WAN accelerator can help you:
- Monitor incoming and outgoing traffic
- Remove duplicate data
- Compress data before transmission
- Cache references for frequently used data sets
- Optimize network protocols and overall WAN operations
All these activities lead to reduce the use of WAN resources and eventually generate much faster data/application access over the WAN.
Earlier, accelerators would necessitate a dedicated hardware appliance at each end of the WAN link. This was fine when it comes to large enterprises WANs that required connecting branch offices to a centralized corporate data center. However, it did not help remote users or mobile users of a company.
Development of WAN Accelerator
Today, WAN accelerator service providers have come forward and brought out mobile software clients that act as localized appliances. This upgraded technology allows the remote user’s computer to cache parts of files or the entire duplicate files locally. It makes it easy to connect either to dedicated headquarters servers or corporate WAN accelerator hardware appliances.
Since the market of WAN accelerator has got matured, many of its products have advanced beyond the central acceleration techniques. The difference between traditional WAN accelerators and WAN optimization controllers (WOC) lies in functionality. When compared with the traditional accelerator appliance, the WOC has been upgraded to offer compression and disk caching. However, it further leads to optimizing the WAN link by accounting for known problems with common network protocols. Protocol optimization is experienced for cleaning up chatty protocols which are used in common enterprise standards like the following:
- Common Internet File System (CIFS)
- Microsoft Exchange
This is done for the purpose of removing the typical overhead found in these communication protocols. These optimizations need a deeper understanding of the protocols. Then only, one can accomplish through significant collaboration with application vendors or reverse engineering by the WAN accelerator vendor.
Application delivery Controllers
Today, there is an application delivery controller (ADC). Unlike WOC solutions, this advanced technology is used for asymmetrical connections and applications. It is useful for customers who are accessing a corporate e-commerce site. Even if there is no remote client that WAN accelerators employ, the ADC stays focused on optimizing the server-side experience with the help of certain techniques, including SSL (Secure Socket Layer) offload, static caching and load balancing for improving the end user experience and mitigating spikes in the traffic.
To sum up, WAN Accelerator has emerged as one of the basic requirements of today’s business; it is advisable not to overlook its importance.