What is Wide Area Network (WAN) Optimizer Software?
A Wide Area Network (WAN) optimizer also known as WAN accelerator or WAN optimization controller is a software solution specifically designed to improve the efficiency and performance of data transmission on wide area networks or even on LAN in some cases. It uses data de-duplication and compression techniques to speed up the time taken for information to flow back & forth via WAN network. WAN optimization software helps in connecting geographically dispersed locations, where data transfer can be affected due to limited bandwidth, packet loss and high latency. WAN optimizer uses several techniques to overcome all challenges and improve network performance.
How Does WAN Optimization Work?
- WAN optimization is used for overcoming delays, enhancing network throughput and reducing packet loss. It accomplishes this using various WAN optimization techniques and technologies.
- Bandwidth deduplication and stream compression through byte caching in real-time.
- When lesser data is sent over the WAN, it results in improved user experience, application acceleration and reduced bandwidth cost.
- Forward error, packer loss recovery and quality of service improve the link performance for ensuring better application response.
- TCP acceleration improves the performance of suboptimal network environments.
- The bandwidth-intensive web traffic is redirected by SD-WAN Path Selection via a secondary broadband link.
Why Do We Need WAN Optimization?
Let's look at some key reasons why WAN optimization is required.
- Enhanced Performance: Wide area network performance is drastically improved due to WAN optimization strategies for data transports and applications. Faster response times, improved productivity, and better user experience are some critical benefits of WAN optimization. Moreover, it also lowers latency, prioritizes vital traffic, and optimizes bandwidth usage.
- Efficient Bandwidth: WAN links have limited bandwidth; therefore, it becomes important to use resources wisely. WAN optimization procedures like caching, data deduplication, and data compression reduce the quantity of data transmission, hence decreasing bandwidth requirements. This helps you in making the most of your current network infrastructure without any costly upgrades.
- Saves Cost: WAN helps in minimizing the demand for extra network capacity and optimizes bandwidth consumption, which might result in cost savings. It helps your organization in getting a greater return on investment and protects against unreasonable investments in costly network improvements. Additionally, it reduces operating costs and boosts productivity.
Key Features of Wide Area Network (WAN) Optimization Software
WAN optimizer solutions come with a wide range of features such as data compression, data deduplication, traffic prioritization, network acceleration, and more. Let's look at all these features in more detail.
- Wide Area File Services (WAFS): This is a subset of WAN optimization that allows centralized and effective management of data across dispersed locations. Basically, it is a storage technology, which allows you to access a remote data center over a WAN as if it is a local connection. The primary elements of WAFS are application acceleration and WAN optimization.
- SMB Proxy: Server message block proxy or SMB proxy is a software component or network device that is commonly used in Windows environment to access printers, files and many other shared resources. The main purpose of this feature is that it optimizes and enhances the security, performance and management of SMB communications. Along with intercepting SMB requests by clients, it increases the effectiveness of SMB traffic.
- HTTPS Proxy: Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS) is a response/request protocol between servers and clients that is used for secure transactions and communications. The HTTPS-proxy can be used to protect a web server that is secured by a Firebox or to analyze the HTTPS traffic that is being requested by users on the network. Moreover, as HTTPS uses a digital certificate for securing a connection and validating the identity of a web server, it is more secure than HTTP.
- Media Multicasting: Media Multicasting: Media Multicasting facility allows the transmission of multimedia content, like video and audio, simultaneously to various audiences over a network. This is a network communication technique that allows seamless distribution of media streams to a large group of receivers, who are known as multicast group members.
- Bandwidth management: Bandwidth management is a procedure that categorizes different types of data for prioritizing network traffic. Usually, this feature is used in tandem with quality of service for enhancing the granularity and level of control. Bandwidth management segregates traffic into different bandwidth classes and every class has a priority assigned to it. Priorities are assigned according to different factors such as content, application, source and users.
- Data Compression: Compression algorithms are used by WAN optimizers to decrease the size of data transferred over the network. As the compressed data needs less bandwidth, it results in improved network efficiency and faster transmission.
- Data Deduplication: This attribute removes the redundancy from data transmission by spotting and eliminating duplicity from data patterns. By transmitting unique data components, WAN optimization software decreases the amount of data shared over the network, hence drastically improves bandwidth utilization.
- Protocol Optimization: It improves the efficiency of different protocols when traveling across a WAN varies. To minimize latency and increase throughput, WAN optimizers can optimize and improve protocol behavior, like TCP window size. This helps maximize throughput and reduce latency.
- Reporting & Analytics: All top-grade WAN optimizers come with reporting & analytics feature that provides in-depth reports about traffic patterns, network performance and optimization gains. It helps the administrators in understanding the effectiveness of optimization strategies and make well-informed decisions.
What Types of WAN Optimization Software Are There?
Here are some common types of WAN optimization solutions available in the market:
- Physical WAN optimization: These hardware-based solutions are usually available in the form of physical appliances. They are directly installed in the network infrastructure to ensure high performance. Moreover, physical WAN optimization can easily handle heavy workloads.
- Virtual WAN Optimization: This software is specifically designed to work on virtual and cloud platforms. It gives users the option to deploy WAN optimization as a virtual appliance, making it easy to scale and integrate with the existing virtualized settings.
- SD WAN Optimization: Software Defined WAN (SD WAN) software offers WAN optimization facilities along with SMART network management. SD WAN software uses software defined network concepts for prioritizing applications, traffic routing, and managing network resources across several locations.
- Cloud Based WAN optimization: Cloud based WAN optimization tools are easy to deploy and offer greater flexibility and scalability. These solutions leverage cloud services as well as infrastructure to optimize WAN performance.
Benefits of WAN Optimizer Software
The key benefits of WAN Optimization solutions include:
- Improved speed between multiple locations: WAN solutions help in maximizing network speed between remote locations, increasing the file transfer speed as well as network-based communication, like email, conference calls, etc.
- Faster data recovery: Crashed applications and servers take a lot of effort and time to recover. Thanks to the increased network response time due to WAN optimization, it allows users to quickly regain access to important applications and reclaim critical applications with ease.
- Reduce network bandwidth costs: With methods such as compression, caching, and application acceleration, you can utilize Wide Area Network optimizers to decrease the cost of third-party software, bandwidth usage and network devices.
- Enhanced application delivery: Wide Area Network (WAN) Optimization software is highly beneficial for companies that depend on critical applications like customer relationship management (CRM), enterprise resource planning (ERP) and virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI). By implementing application-specific optimizations, Wide Area Network (WAN) optimizers reduce latency, accelerate application delivery and ensure seamless performance over the WAN.
- Centralized Management: Several WAN optimization solutions offer centralized management facilities, empowering IT administrators to keep a tab on WAN from a single console. It enables effective provisioning, troubleshooting and configuration of WAN optimization devices. Moreover, this also helps in simplifying network management tasks.
Who Uses Wide Area Network (WAN) Optimization Software?
WAN optimization software is used by branch & remote offices, data centers, and cloud service providers. Here we take a detailed look at such businesses:
- Branch and remote offices: Organizations that have several branches or remote offices need to access centralized applications, resources and data over WAN. All these businesses use WAN optimization software to improve application performance, ensure efficient data transfer, allow remote workers to work effectively, and use important resources without any delay.
- Data Centres: Date centres that offer hosting, cloud or colocation services often use Wide Area Network (WAN) solutions to optimize and ensure optimum network connectivity between client offices and data centre facilities. It enhances the overall network performance, reduces latency and improves data transfer speeds.
- Cloud Service Providers: Cloud service providers provide Software as a Service (SaaS), Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and Platform as a Service (PaaS) solutions, and they often rely on WAN optimization software for optimizing network performance for their customers. It helps in delivering world-class cloud-based services and improves data transfer between cloud infrastructure and customer premises.
How Much Does WAN Optimization Software Cost?
The price of WAN optimization software depends on several factors such as features, capabilities, number of users, licenses, specific vendors or any additional support or services. Primarily, it is available on a subscription-based or license model. Moreover, there are vendors who charge a fixed price as per the number of devices or users, while others may offer it on tiered-based pricing.
What Does WAN Optimization Software Integrate With?
WAN optimization software can integrate with several systems and components to improve the overall performance of the network. Here are some noteworthy integrations of this software.
- Application Delivery Controllers (ADCs): ADCs are computer devices that are placed in a zone between a web farm and an outer firewall. It controls and optimizes the connection between application servers and client computers. WAN optimization software integrates ADSc to enhance the application performance by compressing data, reducing latency and categorizing application traffic.
- Switches and Routers: WAN optimization software can be integrated with switches and routers for optimizing network traffic. It could be integrated with these systems to reroute traffic via optimization appliances and to make full use of quality of services (QoS) to prioritize certain settings.
- Content Delivery Networks (CDNs): Content delivery networks (CDNs) are used for distributing content to people in various geographical locations. The software can be integrated with CDNs to enhance the quality and delivery of cached content, optimize data transfers and reduce latency.
- Security Appliances: To ensure the security of optimized traffic, you can integrate WAN optimization software with firewalls and bug prevention systems. This integration ensures the efficient and reliable transfer of traffic while ensuring foolproof security measures.
Comparison Between the Best WAN Optimization Solutions
|On Premises, Cloud
|On Premises, Cloud
|Machine Learning & AI
|IP, TCP, UDP
|IP, TCP, UDP
|Analytics & Reporting
Considerations When Buying Wide Area Network (WAN) Optimizer Software
While purchasing WAN optimizer software, there are numerous key considerations that you need to keep in mind to select the best WAN optimizer software for your business. Some of the important pointers are as follows.
- Application support and protocols: Check whether the Wide Area Network solution supports different protocols and applications utilized in your company. Determine the support for some common protocols such as FTP, HTTP, UDP and TCP. Moreover, you should also check for protocols that are critical for your applications and business operations.
- Trial period and proof of concept (PoC): If possible, you should request a trial period or proof of concept for the WAN optimizer software. It enables you to evaluate its performance and check its compatibility with the network environment before taking a final purchase decision.
- Return on investment and cost: You should also evaluate the total cost of Wide Area Network optimizer and compare it with the expected return on investment. You should consider the factors like maintenance costs, licensing fees or any hardware requirements. Moreover, you should also access the potential cost saving due to bandwidth optimization and reduced network downtime.
- Vendor support: Check for the customer service of the software vendor. Check the vendor's track record in delivering timely and reliable support. Consider factors like the vendor's experience in the domain, customer reviews and the ability to offer timely software updates.
- Security: Finally, check the security features provided by WAN optimizer software. It must come with encryption capabilities to ensure the integrity and confidentiality of data transmitted over WAN. The solution should offer support for secure protocols and data deduplication without compromising on security. Additionally, evaluate the software's ability to optimize the encrypted traffic.
Wide Area Network (WAN) Optimization Software Latest Trends
Here are a few popular trends that are shaping the WAN optimization software domain.
- Edge computing: WAN optimization solutions are offering localized optimization facilities at edge locations to support edge computing architectures. This approach improves application performance, reduces latency, and allows seamless data transfer between centralized resources and edge devices.
- Network visibility: WAN optimization software focuses on giving comprehensive analytics capabilities and network visibility to organizations. These attributes allow organizations to gain critical insights into bandwidth utilization, network performance, user experience and application behaviour. Thanks to in-depth analytical reports, IT experts can easily identify bottlenecks, optimize network resources and troubleshoot issues with utmost ease.
- AI and Machine Learning based optimization: Machine learning and artificial intelligence technologies are being used in WAN optimization tools to monitor application performance, analyze network traffic, and adapt the latest optimization strategies. Machine learning algorithms can easily learn and adapt to changing network conditions, thus improving the overall effectiveness and efficiency of WAN optimization.
- Cloud-based WAN optimization: Cloud-based WAN optimization tools provide flexibility and scalability, allowing companies to optimize the network performance of both cloud-hosted and on-premises applications. Moreover, it also results in better application performance as well as user experience in multi cloud and hybrid environments.