WAN caching

What is WAN caching?

WAN caching is term that is not very often used in the IT field in reference to optimizing your Wide Area Network. Usually WAN caching is referred to as WAN optimization, Bandwidth Accelerations, or even Wide Area Application Services (WAAS by Cisco).

I choose to refer to WAN optimization as WAN caching because in actual case for WAN acceleration to really happen a lot of caching is done, but I am not going to get into this here.

The benefits of WAN caching:

The essence of deploying this technique on your network is to improve the general performance of the network in terms of speedy file transfer between your branch offices. Back then in college one of my projects was implementing a secure Information Communication System for a company that had several other branches around the region. This network optimization technique would have come in handy then, but that is not the crux of this article.

How does it work?

To accelerate your WAN one places an appliance that will do the caching between your WAN router and your servers at your headquarters or data center and other similar appliances at the same place on each and every one of the other branches at the same spot. Files get over the network all the time. However there are some files that get sent repeatedly. The remote appliances setup will replicate these large files and only make small changes to them with some compression and tweaking to optimize the networking protocols.

Once this is achieved successfully, there is a five to ten increase in the performance of most files and applications. In better situations the speed increase is 100 times more. This in essence will increase your companies productivity. The WAN caching technique also decreases the usage of the WAN by 60 – 90%. This is because once the files and applications have been replicated they don’t have to be resent through the network. This is where you will  see ROI because in most cases it will reduce the amount of bandwidth you will need to purchase at some branches.

Cisco offers an Application and  Content Networking System (ACNS) with software and Wireless Application Engines.

The great thing about WAN caching you don’t need to interrupt your current network as it is to deploy it and once you make the first file transfer you can start experiencing the efficiency of the caching. However, WAN caching does not speed up applications like video conferencing or VOIP.

How do you implement this technique for telecommuters who will not be working from your already optimized branch offices. It is not as difficult as it sounds, WAN acceleration vendors offer software solutions that can be installed on laptops and PCs and provide most of the same benefits.

Some of the companies to watch for are WAN acceleration specialists Riverbed and Blue Coat and networking giants Cisco and Juniper.

In conclusion, WAN caching is a big step in optimizing your file transfers, Microsoft Exchange servers, databases and several other corporate applications that rely on static files.

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