Sunday, September 23, 2007

WAN Optimization

Something I have always been simultaneously very interested in and confused by is the wide area network. WAN technologies, optimization and accelerators are creeping up in headlines all over the place. With data centers growing in number and consolidation projects pushing data from geographically disperse locations, the WAN is becoming increasingly important to build and operate. This post is really just to aggregate the information I have run across, help myself understand it better, and with any luck, help someone else interested in the topic as well.


  • Matisse Networks has some pretty cool products for what they are calling the "first optical burst switch, purpose-built for scaling metro and campus networks from 10 to 640 Gbps." Their equipment and technology allows you to scale the metro area network beyond 10Gbps while reducing the capital expenditures needed to accomplish it. Optical burst switching combines Ethernet and the enormous bandwidth of DWDM . Matisse is touting it as the next step in the evolution of optical network products ( Fixed wavelength --> Reconfigurable DWDM --> Optical Burst). A whitepaper explaining the technology and products can be found here

"There are four Metro Ethernet scenarios that we see developing.

1. Simple L2 aggregation combined with transport. Limited support for legacy interfaces and no support for TDM. Limited traffic management and service awareness.
2. The God box. Support for TDM grooming, L2 switching and perhaps even MPLS routing.
3. Sophisticated L2 switching and L3 routing. Deep packet classification and traffic management. No support for TDM.
4. The stupid network. Buy dirt cheap commodity transport equipment and manage everything at the wavelength level. Backhaul everything to enormous Cisco and Juniper routers and sort it out there."
  • Click here to check out the Gartner 2006 WAN Optimization Controller Magic Quadrant report.
  • Here are some Cisco implementation stories of their Wide Area Application Services solution

WAN Optimization/Acceleration

  • Mark Weiner over at the Cisco Data Center Networks blog talks briefly about WAN optimization. He mentions a company that saved 3.2TB (Terabits) of WAN traffic and related expenses within a one month period!
  • An interesting lessons learned story comes from Byte and Switch article about Kansas City based 360 Architecture. Theirs is a story of WAN optimizers and consolidation of SAN resources. The article explains their problem, vendor evaluation and eventual 4X improvement in WAN speeds.


Finally - the fiber networks themselves are getting attention as well. The attraction of owning your own private fiber network was underscored by Paetec Holding acquiring Mcleod USA for $492 million in stock. Check out the details and article here

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hey John,

Good idea! It's definitely a very hot area in data networking. WAN Optimization, Application Acceleration, caching, WDS, WAFS, and on and on...What does it all mean? It's simpler than it sounds. I promise. I'm an engineer that works for a Cisco partner in southern California and we are also partnered with Riverbed as they have the best of breed solution in WAN Acceleration. We have had great success using Riverbed's Steelhead Appliances in our customer networks. They have great reporting also. I have a bunch of comparison information on all the players if you are interested. Let me know.

Justin Lofton
Systems Engineer
Tredent Data Systems, Inc.