WAN Performance – Here Today, Gone Tomorrow???

SilverPeak’s VP Prod Mkt’g on Riverbed and AutoCAD

Jeff Aaron, Silver Peak’s VP for product marketing, writes to express his opinion of the Riverbed and AutoCAD issue. What follows is his text:-

“I have previously discussed how there are two schools of thought with respect to WAN optimization. Recent news surrounding Riverbed’s lack of support for the latest version of AutoCAD (ver 2008) has prompted me to re-address that topic….

“In Forrester’s terminology, WAN optimization can be broken down into the following 2 categories:

- A “Data centric” approach to WAN acceleration, whereby you focus on improving the size/amount of data and addressing network issues that can hamper transfer speeds (like bandwidth, latency and loss).

- An “application centric” approach, whereby tweaks are performed at the application layer (layer 7) that help to overcome fundamental issues within the application itself, such as chattiness.

“While the application centric approach may provide satisfactory performance for certain versions of certain applications, the data centric approach provides a much better overall ROI as it is optimizes more applications (and therefore more business functions). In addition, a data centric approach provides much better “future proofing” as it is not dependent on which release of a given application you are running, and avoids release-specific compatibility problems. (For more detail on this delineation, Rob Whitely from Forrester explains these two methods in this webinar…)

“This issue of “data centric” vs “application centric” has really come to light recently with the big uproar around AutoCAD. In this instance, AutoDesk changed the file format for AutoCAD and related applications, causing certain WAN optimization vendors to break the newest version of the application. In this situation, the problem is not that the WAN optimization vendors designed their products specifically for older versions of AutoCAD, it is that the WAN optimization solutions were not robust enough to handle a change in the data format. The end result is the same, though –the old WAN optimization products do not work with the new version of software.

“How can this be avoided? For one, avoid “application centric” schemes to WAN optimization as the concept is fundamentally flawed – you will always be looking over your shoulder to see if new releases work with existing products. Second, look for WAN optimization products that are designed for all types of traffic – network layer architecture versus application-specific schemes. Avoid solutions that automatically block or bypass certain applications as that is a good indicator of product limitations and potential compatibility problems down the road. Common examples of traffic types that are bypassed by certain WAN optimization appliances are Citrix, voice, video, remote desktop, and many low latency data replication apps. It is no surprise that the same WAN optimization vendors that have problems with these applications are now seeing problems with AutoCAD.

(… Silver Peak has worked with AutoDesk and other customers to verify that Silver Peak’s NX appliances do not suffer this limitation. Here are end user examples showing how we optimize virtually all enterprise applications, including AutoCAD 2007 and 2008).

“Are you concerned that new software releases will impact your ability to optimize this traffic? I want to know, so please drop me a line with your thoughts.”

If you want to get touch then Jeff Aaron’s e-mail address is aaron.jeff@silver-peak.com.

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