What is wide area network (WAN) optimization?
The wide area network, or WAN, is a lot like the local area network (LAN) but large. Very large, in fact. Whereas the LAN connects a concentrated pool of devices, the WAN provides a way of unifying smaller networks by linking them together over long physical distances.
When we’re talking about an Internet Service Provider (ISP), the WAN is best thought of as the means through which it connects thousands of households and small businesses to the entire Internet. For an enterprise organization, the WAN could consist of all of its branch offices, campuses and data centers throughout the world.
A software-defined WAN (SD-WAN) is an updated approach to wide area networking. As the popularity of cloud computing platforms and software-as-a-service (SaaS) solutions explodes, so too does the need to incorporate them securely and efficiently into more traditional WAN architectures. The SD-WAN makes this possible by abstracting the networking from the hardware. It has the added benefit of improving WAN performance and creating opportunities for bandwidth optimization.
Which raises some pertinent questions. What is WAN optimization? What benefits does it bring? And why is it necessary in the first place?
The benefits of WAN optimization
Let’s start by answering the last question first, as it helps to make sense of the benefits.
WAN optimization is necessitated by the same forces that are driving SD-WAN adoption. Cloud and SaaS solutions naturally increase an organization’s reliance on the WAN as well as the amount of network traffic that crosses it. Therefore, the WAN has to be optimized to meet these new demands. That in turn brings:
- Reduced costs: Boosting WAN performance often goes hand in hand with streamlining infrastructure and simplifying administration. Organizations can then eliminate expensive hardware and reduce resource-intensive fragmentation of management.
- Faster network traffic: Thanks to dynamic routing and other bandwidth optimization tools, incredible volumes of data can be moved across the WAN without causing network congestion and hindering network performance.
- Improved productivity: Because WAN optimization can be tailored for SaaS solutions like Salesforce or SAP along with cloud platforms like AWS and Azure, both end users and IT admins can get their jobs done more efficiently.
A WAN optimized network can be achieved through custom SD-WAN solutions that are designed to increase WAN performance around specific workflows, applications and configurations. It can also be achieved through discrete WAN acceleration solutions.
What is WAN acceleration, incidentally? In a nutshell, WAN acceleration is a dedicated software and/or hardware product that uses different techniques to analyze and optimize network traffic. It monitors incoming and outgoing traffic in real time and deduplicates, compresses and caches data to maximize limited bandwidth.
WAN optimization software for data transfer and sync
One convenient and versatile way to optimize WAN file transfer is through Resilio Connect.
The reason Resilio Connect is so effective is that other WAN optimized data transfer and sync solutions (e.g., Aspera, Signiant, UDT) are designed for serial operation. They’re built on the client–server model and can only optimize data transfer point to point.
Resilio Connect, on the other hand, is unique in enabling fast and secure parallel transport. That leads to WAN optimized file transfers that consistently exceed the performance of traditional one-to-one WAN optimization solutions. The speed increases as more endpoints are added. To put that in practical terms, Resilio Connect will be 50% faster than one-to-one solutions in a 1:2 transfer scenario and 500% faster in a 1:10 scenario.
You can use our handy WAN file transfer calculator to see speed comparisons with different network variables. By leveraging peer-to-peer networking, Rsync-like delta encoding, data compression and WAN optimization technologies, Resilio Connect enables WAN file transfers that are several orders of magnitude faster than 1:1 methods—especially under challenging conditions.