Reduce bandwidth costs by optimizing your WAN.
I recently spoke with Chris Riegel, president of a company called Stratacache, which owns 30% of WOC (WAN optimization controller) market share. Generally speaking, WOCs – deployed in data centers and remote locations – improve the performance of applications that are accessed via a WAN by identifying and correcting bandwidth constraints, latency, and protocol limitations by employing caching technologies. Gartner pegs revenue for WOCs at more than $400 million in 2004.
Riegel's company competes with such others as Network Appliance and Packeteer, which sell similar solutions. Riegel underscored the importance of WAN optimization in retail by pointing out that, while centralization of applications like POS and time and attendance paved the way for WAN adoption, there's no shortage of up-and-coming, centralization-dependent, bandwidth-eating technologies that are catching on fast in this industry. Adding CBT (computer-based training), digital media servers that feed digital signage, visual catalogues, and various store-level database access to the daily network load will quickly eat up the bandwidth for which you've recently invested.
There's been no shortage of editorial coverage extolling the virtues of broadband WANs on the pages of Integrated Solutions For Retailers and like-minded retail solution trade publications. WAN adoption has been hot in the space for a couple of years now, and with plenty of traction still to gain in the SMR (small to midsize retail) space, the success and longevity of WAN providers is all but assured for the near-term. But for those retailers who have been centralizing applications over a broadband WAN for some time now, the next step in the evolution of their networks is application acceleration.
Caching Optimizes Content Distribution
Companies such as Stratacache optimize Internet, intranet, and Web application traffic by fine-tuning WAN site content caching, typically cutting bandwidth usage in half. Riegel says his company has reduced WAN traffic by as much as 90% in some cases by fine-tuning the caching of repetitive application content. The vendor also offers content distribution solutions that depend on WAN optimization to ensure efficient delivery of the aforementioned rich media application data. The company added a feather to its cap in the early part of this year by completing the certification process to deploy content to the Sony Digital Media platform, a move that can only help it add more multithousand point installations to its portfolio.
WAN optimization will become increasingly important as you empower your enterprise with centralized applications like digital streaming media and VoIP (voice over Internet Protocol), and it can significantly reduce the cost of your bandwidth. The work smarter, not harder axiom applies here – before you buy more bandwidth, make sure what you're already using is optimized.