Startup offers cloud-based WAN optimization

It’s almost unavoidable for medium-sized companies or bigger to have more than one location.

A source of pride, it can also be a hindrance if the branches are spread out over more than one region. That’s when IT departments turn to WAN optimization and application acceleration. However, the price of hardware and management can mount up,

A Milpitas, Calif., company thinks it has a better way: offer optimization and acceleration as an online service.

Aryaka Networks Inc., which began commercial service last week, says it can significantly boost transfer speeds by running applications over its network.

All an organization has to do is point its traffic to the nearest Aryaka point of presence.

At the moment it has 10 POPs around the world, six in the U.S. By the end of the year, says CEO Ajit Gupta (pictured), there will be 15 more including Toronto and Vancouver.

“For a company in Canada, if they have offices in Mexico, Europe or Asia, instead of a 300 or 400 milisecond [delay], they can do collaboration more efficiently,” he said in an interview. “Their applications could be running hundreds of times faster, and they could save almost 95 per cent of the bandwidth.”

Pricing varies by the kind of connection to an Aryaka POP. It starts at US$300 a month for a T1 connection, US$500 a month for three T1s. The service includes a guarantee of 99.999 per cent uptime. There are quality of service settings for voice and video traffic.

In a company brochure Aryaka makes dramatic claims of performance using compression and other techniques to reduce bandwidth. Sending an 11 MB file over a T1 with 300 milliseconds of latency using Windows file sharing would normall take 90 seconds, it says. Using Aryaka service on an unoptimized “cold run,” that would drop to about 35 seconds, and to 10 seconds with an optimized “warm run.” Similar numbers are offered for an FTP transfer of the same file. The claimed gain sending a 39 MB compressed file via HTTP is substantial. However Aryaka cautions that results can vary depending on the network and data.

At the moment, however, it doesn’t support SSL (secure sockets layer) encryption.

Bojan Simic, president and principal analyst at Trac Research, a Walpole, Mass. –based market research firm, said the service could make WAN optimization affordable for struggling organizations, especially with a branch near an Aryaka point of presence.

However, he added, an on premises solution might be better if the branches are in the same geographical area, or if the organization has high latency demands.

He also noted that a Denver-based managed service provider, Virtela Technology Services Inc., already offers a virtual application acceleration service costing US$5 a day per branch office. The company says it has 50 POPs (called Local Cloud Centres) around the world, one of which is in Toronto. Another will be added next year in Vancouver. A Virtela spokesman said the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC) is one of the company’s Canadian customers.

Simic believes companies that will take advantage of such cloud services will be those with unoptimized branches, as opposed to those who have already invested in branch hardware and software.

Arayka subscribers get access to a portal which allows network managers to add locations, as well as receive detailed information on the status of their applications and the WAN.

Organizations have a number of choices for WAN optimization and application acceleration. Hardware or software appliances from manufacturers such as Cisco Systems Inc., Blue Coat Systems and Riverbed Technology is one way. A number of service providers also offer managed services. However, they do involve a capital expense.

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