Tag Archives: networking

WAN Acceleration: What options are available?

I’ve been considering WAN accelerators ever since the sysadmin next door suggested one a month or two ago. I’ve known about them for a few years, but I didn’t realize their full capacity for improving your users’ experience until I heard it from him.

If you’re unfamiliar with the concept of WAN acceleration, here’s an example of how it could help. Suppose you’ve got a central office and you’ve got a branch office. Maybe you’ve got a leased line from your branch office to the main office, or maybe they’re just connected over a VPN. Whichever, they send traffic back and forth between them. Because you’re sending uncompressed data, by default, you waste a lot of bandwidth. A 100k Excel spreadsheet could easily zip to 10k with even a low-efficiency compression scheme like gzip. WAN accelerators let you do that, except over your network links. Because you can’t just send compressed data and hope something on the other end understands it, you’ve got to have one at each end of the wire, although you can have one terminate multiple remote endpoints, I believe. This would be useful if you had two branch offices, each connected to one main office.

Anyway, I’ve done a little bit of a market survey to see what’s out there, and the leader appears to be Riverbed, which is what my neighbor is using. In addition, there are many others out there, all of which seem to have similar features.

If you want to hear more about the various options, I found this very recent view of what’s out there (except from an investment standpoint, but it should give you some idea): http://seekingalpha.com/article/149152-optimizing-the-wan-optimization-space

Are any of you using them? What do you have, and how well does it work?

Random thoughts on Slashdot

I wanted to make a quick reply to someone on slashdot who suggested adding a 5th octet to IP addresses rather than migrating to IPv6. I meant to write a really quick reply, but it got drawn out. I got done with it and thought that some of you might have thoughts on it:

Awesome idea. We’ll give Google 1/8, The government can 2/8, IBM will get 3/8, etc etc etc

Same problem. The ipv6 is not a “bad” idea, it’s just sort of like…imagine in 1950s if the phone company decided “we could go with area codes to subdivide numbers to prevent running out, or we could use letters AND numbers”.

Can you imagine the upheaval?

In a lot of ways, that would have been even easier to deal with, because everyone’s phone was owned by AT&T. New phones could have been issued without too much problem.

No, imagine it instead in the mid 1980s. Ma Bell doesn’t own the phones any more, in fact there are tons of cheap phones available, cell phones are starting to come out, and there are still rotary AND push button phones.

That’s more like what the IPv6 switch is like. Do you give the new people 2 numbers, so that grandma can still call them? How long is it before you stop accepting legacy phones that only have 10 dialing options? How the hell do you get DTMF to work with 36 numbers? Do we need area codes? It would be weird without them, but we don’t really need them.

The equivalent of these questions are still being asked. Just a couple of months ago, there was a huge to-do about NAT and IPv6. “IPv6 is a world without NAT”. The hell it is. My internal routers don’t get publicly routable IP addresses, even if I have to NAT back to IPv4.

When the wrinkles get ironed out, we’re going to wonder how we ever did without it. During the transition, it’s going to be hell for everyone (with the possible exception of the clueless end user, who might have to buy a new router at most).