Mid-sized and large companies, faced with growing traffic over their WANs, are familiar with the options: compress, accelerate, or build.
Building bigger pipes has helped, but it has also brought on more traffic. Compression and acceleration technologies have certainly made an impact and a number of vendors offer application traffic management systems for WANs, from Packeteer and Cisco, to Ipanema Technologies. Ipanema has come up with a clever way to handle this problem through its Tele-Acceleration module. The problem, according to Vargha Moayed, executive vice-president of Ipanema, is that mission-critical applications don’t get prioritized.
“Look at the traffic that goes into a WAN today,” says Moayed. “About 15 per cent to 20 per cent are business-critical apps, either ERP of software specific to a vertical. Then another 30 per cent is e-mail. Then 50 per cent of the rest is Web surfing. These are weed applications. They grow fast and are useless.”
Ipanema, which has four patents and two more under consideration, solves this problem by prioritizing mission-critical applications. The company is confident enough in the technology that it believes application availability could be written into SLAs offered by service providers.
Central to this is Ipanema’s ability to recalculate the WAN optimization algorithm on a second-by-second basis. Every instance of application demand is calculated against the state of the traffic, with the algorithm then adapted to optimize performance.
But perhaps the most impressive aspect of Ipanema’s product is that it can optimize applications on large networks without requiring a device at each site.
“I can see the advantage from an administrative perspective,” says Mark Tauschek, senior analyst for Info-Tech Research Group. “Certain industries, like retail, where there are multiple sites but limited IT capabilities, could really benefit from this.”
Moayed gave his own example, referring to a rental car company with 3,500 sites. This particular client needs each site to have access to billing for immediate printing, as well as to scheduling, yet the applications are coming off separate data centres.
“The infrastructure managers don’t want servers or WAN optimization boxes in all 3,500 places. But through our Tele-Optimization system we can shape and work on the traffic at the source. The devices at the data centres are communicating with each other constantly.”
Info-Tech’s Tauschek expressed concern that Ipanema’s technology would have difficulty addressing the real-time requirements of VoIP and UDP, the User Datagram Protocol that runs on top of IP networks and is used primarily for video streaming. Moayed asserts that Ipanema’s technology does cover UDP.
Despite this, Tauschek agrees that rightsizing bandwidth according to application performance objectives is a smart strategy, pointing out that it is being adopted by smaller vendors such as NetEqualizer. NetEqualizer also prioritizes by algorithm and will bump down peer-to-peer traffic.
However, things get more complex in one-to-many and any-to-any environments. Ipanema’s Cooperative Optimization is designed for these kinds of high-