Hurricanes, tornados, bird flu, terrorist attacks…What's next? The new millennium has not only brought us many exciting new technologies but many different catastrophic events that can cause large-scale disruption to business operations. True disaster recovery plans used to be only for large multi-billion dollar customers. Nowadays not a single company should be without a disaster recovery plan. However, being able to afford the network bandwidth to accommodate such a plan has historically been a problem for all but the largest companies. Now, thanks to the advent of WAN optimization technologies, even your small and midsized customers can have the peace of mind that comes with a disaster recovery plan.
Having access to corporate data is one of the most important pieces of a proper disaster recovery plan. Even more important is that the data must be as current as possible and easily accessible. Many customers are frustrated with the traditional methods of backing up data to tape, sending the tapes off-site, and then having to deal with the recovery process in the event of a major disaster. The ability to use disk-to-disk replication that automatically replicates data makes recovery processes much easier; however, these systems typically require expensive high-bandwidth circuits. The fact that true disaster recovery operations should be located in different geographic areas makes these high-bandwidth circuits even more expensive. For example, a customer based in San Jose, Calif. may want to have its data recovery center hosted in Dallas, Texas so that a regional disaster does not impact both the headquarters office and the disaster recovery location. The cost incurred by the increased circuit distance can sometimes be enough to cancel an entire disaster recovery project.
So what can you do as your customer's trusted adviser? The Chief Operating Officer wants a robust disaster recovery solution but the Chief Financial Officer will not pay the required thousands of dollars per month for the OC-3 to connect the two facilities. The answer is WAN optimization.
Introduction to WAN optimization
WAN optimization is a technology that has seen a tremendous adoption rate in the past 12-24 months. WAN optimization products accelerate a broad range of applications accessed by distributed users by employing methodologies that eliminate redundant transmissions, stage data in local caches, compress and prioritize data, expand on default TCP window sizes, and streamline chatty protocols. Many vendors provide WAN optimization appliances that perform these functions in an in-line fashion that require no changes to network IP address schemes and that short-circuit themselves in the event of a power failure, which makes for easy network deployments with no worry about causing network outages.
WAN optimization technologies became immediately popular with large companies that had international offices or offices connected by high-latency satellite links that allow distributed users to access corporate resources. Companies are now using WAN optimization technology to facilitate disaster recovery services. Instead of potentially buying a full DS-3 (or higher speed) circuit from an Interexchange Carrier at a cost of tens of thousands of dollars per month, customers with WAN optimization can use a simple T-1 circuit for $1,000 per month or perhaps just utilize site-to-site VPN technology across the public Internet. A capital investment in WAN optimization appliances at both ends of a disaster recovery WAN connection often results in a return on investment (ROI) period of six months or less. Not only that, but your customer becomes much better positioned if they ever need to enact their disaster recovery plans.
The benefits of WAN optimization
So what's the magic here? WAN optimization is basically the same technology that allows distributed users to access core company resources across long-latency WAN circuits. WAN optimization offers these advantages:
- It eliminates redundant data transmission (a huge advantage), because during data replication much of the replicated data remains unchanged.
- It manipulates the TCP Window size to allow a larger amount of data to be transferred in a fewer number of round trips.
- It streamlines the chatty protocols (such as CIFS) even further to allow for more efficient delivery.
WAN optimization is a technology that is enabling every company, both large and small, to provide effective recovery operations in case of a disaster. Disaster recovery plans used to be contained in large loose-leaf binders that nobody ever read or knew how to enact. Today, WAN optimization technologies provide a much easier disaster recovery solution, because the disaster recovery sites are "always on" with the "latest and greatest" company data at a price point that almost any customer can afford.
About the author
Thomas Scire is the Infrastructure Practice Manager at Accudata Systems Inc. (ASI) located in Houston, TX. In this role Thomas is responsible for managing the work efforts of all of the Infrastructure engineers at ASI, working with ASI account executives to design technical solutions for customers, managing vendor relationships, and providing technical strategy for ASI and our customers. He has several specialized certifications including Cisco IP Telephony, Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP), Cisco Certified Design Professional (CCDP), Check Point Software Technologies (FW-1/VPN-1), as well as Nokia.
About Accudata Systems Inc.
Accudata Systems is an IT consulting and integration firm with more than two decades of experience providing high impact IT services and integrated solutions. With focused competencies in Enterprise Platforms, Security, Infrastructure, and Assessment & Compliance, Accudata Systems provides a full array of services ranging from technology assessments to project deployment and support. As trusted advisors to our clients, we assist them in creating and supporting a computing environment that maximizes their investment in information technology. Accudata Systems is headquartered in Houston, TX and has offices in Dallas, Austin, and San Antonio. Get more information at www.accudatasystems.com.