October 1, 2014

SaaS Optimization: How WAN Acceleration Speeds Up the Cloud

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For years WAN optimization technology has been helping companies improve the performance of applications that must be delivered over long distances while also reducing the bandwidth required, in some cases dramatically so. But with the advent of software-as-a-service applications (SaaS), companies that use WAN optimization technology were basically out of luck. Since they don’t own both ends of the connection, they couldn’t very well install a WAN optimization appliance at each end.

Carousel Industries partner Riverbed Technology has changed that equation, as we cover in this information packed podcast with Joe Ghory, senior product manager at Riverbed. His company recently partnered with Akamai, the Web acceleration company, to offer an acceleration solution targeted at companies that use SaaS providers.

WAN Optimization – an Overview

WAN optimization technology improves performance in a number of different ways, Ghory says. First, it gets rid of lots of duplicate data. Riverbed’s Steelhead appliances, for example, can recognize patterns that it has seen before, such as a company logo. Instead of transmitting the logo across the wide-area, it sends only a 16-byte reference to it and the logo is then taken out of a local cache at the destination end. The technology also performs protocol manipulation to reduce the number of handshakes that a protocol such as TCP/IP typically requires, which can hinder performance over long distances. Taken together, these techniques enable LAN-like performance over wide-area networks, improving application performance from 5 times to 100 times while reducing bandwidth requirements by as much as 99%.

The SaaS and Hybrid Cloud WAN Optimization Challenge

To do all that, customers need to have a Steelhead appliance at each of their locations. That’s where companies often run into a stumbling block when they employ SaaS applications or other forms of hybrid cloud offerings. “As you move to a third party vendor, what you trade for costs savings is they may offer a little less control,” Ghory says. “One thing that’ll be most immediately noticeable is control on a performance level. You have to think of end user performance. It it’s not as good as what they’re experiencing currently, your entire project is at risk of failure.”

The distance between the SaaS provider and the end user will “absolutely” affect performance, he notes. But the opportunity to put in something like a Steelhead appliance is probably going to be limited. “They want to offer a turnkey solution,” Ghory says. “So you’re limited by both geography and accessibility and both can wreak havoc on performance.”

A WAN Optimization Solution for the Cloud

To address the issue, Riverbed has partnered with Akamai to offer Steelhead Cloud Accelerator, an optimization solution that works to improve the performance of three big SaaS providers: Salesforce.com, Microsoft Office 365 and Google Apps. Customers order the service online, priced on a per-user basis like most SaaS applications. They then upgrade the code on their existing Steelhead appliances and enter the URL of the SaaS provider. At that point, “we install a Steelhead Cloud Accelerator right at the edge, in the Akamai network, mere milliseconds away from the SaaS provider so that from that point you can offer end-to-end optimization that would otherwise be impossible,” Ghory says.

For most people, access to SaaS providers means connecting via the public Internet. With the Riverbed offering, you’re instead connecting via the Akamai network, which provides far greater availability, security and performance. And customers will also realize all the usual Steelhead benefits, including LAN-like performance and up to 99% bandwidth savings.

To learn more about Steelhead Cloud Accelerator, check out our full conversation with Joe Ghory. For details on how to make this solution a reality inside your company, contact Carousel today.

Get Ready To Play Traffic Cop. Forecast Points To Data Explosion By 2015

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What the heck is a zetabyte?

That was the first thought I had when I read about a new “Global Cloud Index” created by networking technology vendor Cisco. According to the inaugural index released this week, data traffic from cloud computing will reach 1.6 zetabytes by 2015. That is roughly 12 times the traffic related to the “cloud” today, which stands at a mere 130 exabytes. According to Cisco, 1.6 zetabyte is a ginormous amount of data roughly equal to:

  • 22 trillion hours of music (streaming, no less!)
  • 5 trillion hours of business Web conferencing WITH a Web cam

For perspective, the Cisco index data suggests that in the 2015 timeframe referenced, cloud infrastructure traffic will account for about one-third of total data center traffic.

So, even though the cloud data explosion is mind-boggling, the amount of data that “traditional” data centers will need to handle is even moreso. That becomes even more true as servers, storage and networks are virtualized and all manner of workloads are shuttled around internally as needed.

For me, this data (even if it winds up not being 100 percent accurate when 2015 rolls around), points up the enormous management task posed by the ongoing shift to virtualized data centers and to collaborative applications that mix video all on the same grand IP or communications infrastructure. Sadly, the simpler we make computing for end users, the more complex things often become for those responsible for managing the infrastructure behind-the-scenes.

For all this to work, ultimately, a huge portion of the routine tasks that go into keeping data centers humming along smoothly (or not) will need to be automated and entrusted to smart management technology. Or there could be plenty of stop and go traffic ahead for your data center, quite literally.

Is your organization ready to play traffic cop?

Streamlining The Cloud: Riverbed Technology Interview – Partner Podcast

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Take a listen to this information packed interview with Evan Marcus, the Product Evangelistfor Riverbed Technology. Riverbed is a Carousel partner that specializes in improving performance and security for Wide-Area-Networks and Cloud solutions. Essentially, their technology makes networks run a lot faster, making your WAN feel like a LAN.  Topics we discuss:

Issues to Consider when Migrating to Cloud Services

  • Performance – How to ensure users get the same or improved performance relative to local services.
  • Security – How to provide the same level of security on the cloud as you do locally
  • Vendor Lockin – Avoiding having your data trapped with a vendor you want to ditch
  • Network Protocols – They are different for cloud solutions. What do companies need to do to provide a seamless transition for users
  • Cost Controls – How to manage data transfer, storage and throughput once you’ve made the migration. How planning ahead helps keep costs from spiraling out of control

How Businesses Can Improve Performance

  • Streamline Negotiations – TCP was not meant for long trips…there are too many negotiations necessary. Technology can eliminate all this repetitive handshaking and cut down on negotiations 60 to 90 percent
  • Streamline Applications – Understanding application protocols can eliminate many redundant negotiations and data transfer signiificantly improving performance and throughput
  • Deduplicate Data Streams – Drastically cut down on the amount of information passed back and forth. Once data (a logo for example) has been sent once anywhere on the network, all future transfers of that logo become a simple metadata identifier.

Securing your Cloud Solutions

Transferring data over the public Internet can create security issues. We review how to secure data in motion as well as data at rest.

With businesses pressing ahead so quickly on virtualization and cloud projects, making sure your network is delivering top-notch performance and security is critical to project success. If this is a focus for your organization, this podcast is a must listen. For more information on how to get the most out of your wide-area-network and cloud solutions, Contact Carousel today.