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How Does WAN Optimization Work? Details

Created by Somesh Gupta in Articles 12 May 2024

In today's world more and more businesses have developed to work on multiple branch offices across the globle which require them to rely heavily on their Wide Area Networks (WANs) for communication and data transfer between their different branches and locations. However, with the increasing amount of data being transferred over WANs, network congestion and slow data transfer can lead to decreased productivity and increased costs. This is where WAN optimization comes into play.

WAN optimization is a set of techniques used to maximize the efficiency and performance of data transfer over a Wide Area Network. These techniques aim to reduce the amount of data being transferred, prioritize traffic based on importance, and minimize the effects of latency.

One of the most popular WAN optimization solutions available in the market is Riverbed. Riverbed offers a range of WAN optimization services and solutions, including SteelHead, which is their flagship product. SteelHead optimizes WAN traffic by reducing the amount of data being transferred over the network through techniques such as data compression, data de-duplication, and caching. It also prioritizes traffic based on the business criticality of the applications being used, ensuring that the most important traffic gets priority over less important traffic.

Another popular vendor providing WAN optimization services is Cisco, with their Wide Area Application Services (WAAS) solution. WAAS optimizes WAN traffic by providing advanced application acceleration, data compression, and protocol optimization. It also supports a range of deployment options including

1. On-premise
2. Cloud-based
3. Hybrid

Making it a versatile solution for organizations of all sizes.

Other vendors that provide WAN optimization services include Citrix with their CloudBridge solution, and Silver Peak with their Unity EdgeConnect solution. These vendors offer similar features and benefits as Riverbed and Cisco, such as data reduction, application acceleration, and traffic prioritization.

In WAN optimization, the TCP/IP protocol is used to ensure reliable delivery of data over the network while minimizing the impact of latency.

The TCP/IP protocol has two layers:

1. Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) layer
2. Internet Protocol (IP) layer

The TCP layer uses 3 way handshake between two end devices before establishing the reliable connection, while the IP layer is used for IP addressing and routing the data traffic across the network.

In WAN optimization, TCP/IP is optimized to improve network performance by reducing the impact of network latency. Network latency is calculated as the delay between the data transmit from the sender and its arrival at the receiver end. There can be multiple reasons of this delay such as network congestion or network errors.

To minimize the impact of latency, WAN optimization solutions use a variety of techniques to optimize the TCP/IP protocol. One common technique is TCP acceleration, which optimizes the TCP layer to improve the speed and efficiency of data transfer. TCP acceleration works by reducing the number of round-trip acknowledgments needed to establish a connection, which can significantly reduce latency and improve performance.

Another technique used in WAN optimization is packet loss recovery. Packet loss occurs when packets of data are lost during transmission due to network congestion or errors. WAN optimization solutions use techniques such as Forward Error Correction (FEC) and Packet Order Correction (POC) to recover lost packets and ensure reliable data transfer.

Data compression is also commonly used in WAN optimization. By compressing data before transmission, WAN optimization solutions can reduce the amount of bandwidth needed to transfer data and improve overall network performance.

In conclusion, WAN optimization is an essential technology for organizations that rely heavily on their Wide Area Networks for communication and data transfer. By optimizing WAN traffic, businesses can improve their productivity, reduce costs, and ensure that their critical applications receive priority over less important traffic. Vendors like Riverbed, Cisco, Citrix, and Silver Peak offer a range of WAN optimization solutions that can help businesses achieve these benefits and improve their overall network performance.

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Somesh Gupta

Somesh is a skilled network consultant, has become a reputable figure in the industry with his extensive knowledge of F5 technologies, Riverbed, routing and switching, and other networking disciplines. Born and raised in Uttar Pradesh, India, Somesh developed an early interest in networking technologies. He always had an interest in technology ...

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