Accelerate Private Clouds with an Optimized Network

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1 Accelerate Private Clouds with an Optimized Network An Allstream White Paper 1

2 Table of contents The importance of WAN 1 WAN challenges for Private Clouds 1 WAN Optimization methods 2 Benefits of WAN Optimization 3 The role of the WAN Optimization service provider 3 Allstream Managed WAN Optimization solution 3 Conclusion 4

3 Organizations of all shapes and sizes are looking to deploy cloud implementations in order to increase IT efficiency and help their end users collaborate more easily. They re after benefits that include lower costs, easier management of IT resources, improved disaster recovery and employee productivity gains. The private cloud concept was born out of two major IT trends in recent years: centralization and virtualization. Centralizing servers enables IT to more easily manage and control resources relieving overloaded IT staff from the costly and complex task of managing servers in remote locations. At the same time, virtualization enables far greater utilization of servers, storage and other IT resources, along with greater flexibility in choosing the best location where applications should run. But organizations are also finding out that such advantages can only be achieved when they ensure that their wide-area networks can offer speedy access to resources for users further remote. Addressing network limitations can make the difference between the success and failure of a cloud-based environment. It is also an important factor in an organization s effectiveness and competitive advantage in the market place. WAN optimization solutions, like those offered by Riverbed Technology, accelerate private cloud implementations while adding a layer of visibility and intelligence. Thus enabling users to be more productive, while helping to deliver the cost and management efficiencies that businesses require. The importance of WAN Today s business world operates on a global scale. Large, medium and even small businesses have enlarged the geographical scope of their operation to include regional offices, international subsidiaries, branches, warehouse sites and many other types of remote locations. They constantly need to communicate and collaborate with each other, with the main office and with business partners. The communication networks that support these vital connections are called Wide Area Networks (WAN). Most Enterprise WANs today are IP WANs. Their core network structure is governed by the TCP/IP protocol stack while the access technologies employed can be quite diverse: ATM, Ethernet, DSL, leased lines, etc. For many organizations, their WAN is the lifeblood of their business. Data transfers, access to business applications, financial transactions, communication with customers and partners, inter-office collaboration and many other activities depend heavily on WAN connectivity. In an era when enterprises have increased their national and global exposure, having access to a highly reliable, high performance WAN is one the most important factors in achieving profitability and business success. Not surprisingly, the market is now seeing the emergence of a series of WAN optimization solutions that aim to increase bandwidth utilization, improve the overall functionality of WAN connectivity and enhance the performance of the applications running over the WAN. WAN challenges for Private Clouds To be truly successful, a private cloud deployment needs to transfer data between sites, users and applications with low latency and high reliability. As organizations centralize IT resources in a private cloud, they increase the distance between those resources and end users. Increased distance naturally means additional latency and slower performance. Organizations are continuously trying to squeeze more performance from the existing WAN capacity without incurring additional costs. They are looking for solutions that effectively optimize WAN performance and make it more practical to implement a private cloud model. Efforts to optimize existing WAN connections and facilitate support for private cloud IT infrastructures focus on a few important challenges: 1

4 Inefficient transport protocols. Communication on the WAN is mostly based on the TCP/IP protocol stack and as a result, the transport layer is based on the TCP protocol. For historical reasons, this is not a very efficient protocol, requiring multiple acknowledgements and adding considerable overhead traffic to any data exchange. In a private cloud environment, that overhead contributes to further clogging of the WAN, while repeated acknowledgements delay data transmission and create significant network latency. The latency is also magnified by the often large geographical distances over which data needs to travel in order to reach the central location. Inefficient applications. Many applications, designed in an era before cloud computing, are particularly chatty, sending complete sets of messages to any user who attempts to access the application, with no consideration to the location of the user and the traffic redundancy that is created by some of those messages. The presence of such applications generates even more traffic towards servers further away in the cloud, congesting the network and making the latency issue even worse. Consequently, the performance of many applications is negatively impacted. Available bandwidth. The private cloud computing model requires all users to access applications and data located at a central location. That generates large amounts of traffic on the enterprise WAN. In addition, the number of complex applications and their bandwidth requirements are constantly growing. These factors create conditions in which the available bandwidth is not sufficient to meet the demands created by the operation of the private cloud IT infrastructure. Buying more bandwidth may seem the obvious solution, however, additional bandwidth won t solve performance problems caused by latency or issues related to the behavior of certain protocols and applications. WAN Optimization methods To benefit from all the advantages of the private cloud computing model, enterprises are deploying WAN optimization solutions that seek to mitigate common WAN operation challenges such as those we ve described. Some of the more popular optimization techniques are: Transport Streamlining Transport streamlining techniques optimize TCP transport protocol packets by expanding virtual TCP windows and reducing the number of acknowledgments across the WAN. Whenever possible, acknowledgements are provided locally, lowering latency and freeing bandwidth for other uses. Thus, without adding more bandwidth capacity, the same WAN can sustain a more productive environment by supporting more applications and better performance. Application Streamlining Similar to the transport streamlining method described above, application streamlining works by analyzing the traffic generated by a particular application and taking steps to eliminate unnecessary roundtrips, execute more tasks locally and reduce the performance problems caused by high latency. Data Streamlining Data streamlining relies on specialized appliances installed in WAN location nodes with the purpose of monitoring the WAN traffic and, when necessary, making traffic shaping and routing decisions. The appliances are able to store arriving data locally and if similar data is going to be received again, to request the transmission of only relevant differences. This approach eliminates the need for redundant data transmissions, improves bandwidth utilization and enhances the performance of applications using the WAN. 2

5 QoS Procedures WAN Optimization solutions normally include QoS capabilities that allow users to reserve adequate bandwidth for key applications. However, administering yet another set of QoS provisions may not be the most effective way to manage traffic priorities on your network. A better approach is to have the QoS performed by a service provider as a managed service. Subscribing to a quality MPLS based WAN service such as Allstream s Business IP, will significantly optimize the performance of your WAN communications and will greatly simplify the QoS management tasks. Benefits of WAN Optimization WAN optimization solutions bring considerable value to enterprises seeking to make the most out of their existing WAN connectivity. Main benefits include: Increased productivity. Applying WAN optimization techniques make business applications run faster and more efficiently regardless of the geographical distances between servers and end users. All users enjoy consistent access to applications and valuable business processes are becoming more effective and reliable. This leads to a marked increase in an employee s ability to collaborate across distances and in the overall productivity of the organization. Improved network performance. By deploying WAN Optimization solutions, organizations can realize dramatic performance improvements across a broad range of applications. The application performance could typically be improved by 5-50 times and, in some cases, by up to 100 times. This can be achieved for applications that include file sharing, , backup, SSL, document management systems, IT tools, SharePoint, SAP, and ERP and CRM solutions. Businesses can ensure fast, reliable access to data and applications for employees around the globe. They can even achieve LAN-like performance for mobile employees, no matter where they are. In addition, WAN Optimization provides fast performance for Disaster Recovery processes by speeding up communication between primary and secondary data centres. Cost savings. In addition to making it easier to implement cost effective private cloud IT infrastructures, deploying WAN optimization solutions result in significant savings due to the reduction in the number of necessary servers and the availability of more bandwidth without any increase in the subscribed capacity. The role of the WAN Optimization service provider An organization can choose to design, install, own and manage their own WAN Optimization appliances and/ or related software, or they can use a WAN Optimization solution from a service provider. The provider alternative presents a number of important advantages. It frees the organization from investing in equipment and the specialized personnel required to install, monitor, manage and upgrade the WAN Optimization solution. In the scenario where WAN Optimization is being purchased as a service, the provider performs all those tasks and ensures the customer s WAN operates at peak performance. Allstream Managed WAN Optimization solution Allstream Managed WAN Optimization service is designed to significantly improve the performance of an organization s WAN connectivity, accelerate existing key business applications and optimize bandwidth utilization for installation of more applications and services. The service is delivered using technology from Riverbed Technology, a leading vendor of equipment and solutions that help enterprises optimize their IT infrastructure and implement strategic initiatives. As part of the service, Riverbed Steelhead appliances, or agent software in the case of mobile users, are installed at each relevant WAN location. 3

6 Our solution helps customers simplify complexity by freeing their IT personnel from the burden of deploying, managing and maintaining their own Riverbed WAN Optimization equipment. Our experts will procure and install the equipment, perform the initial configuration and all subsequent maintenance, monitoring and management tasks. Best results in terms of WAN performance are obtained when the Allstream Managed WAN Optimization is used in conjunction with Allstream s Business IP (MPLS) network. Furthermore, adding Allstream Secure Connect, our MPLS network integrated security, any malicious threats are mitigated in the cloud prior to hitting our customer s cloud, branch offices or mobile users. The figure below illustrates a typical Allstream Managed WAN Optimization solution deployment. Initiate new TCP Sessions Maintain TCP Sessions Maintain TCP Sessions WAN Switch Steelhead Appliance Steelhead Appliance Switch Servers Data Center Branch Initiate new TCP Sessions Mobile Worker With Steelhead Agent Central Manager Real Time Dashboard, Optimization reports, Diagnostics, Backup duties Allstream Support Configuration, Monitoring, Onsite Repair, Software Support Changes, Analysis Client View Aggregate Performance & Optimization Proof Application Visibility Scheduled reports Conclusion As more and more enterprises decide to adopt a cloud computing model in order to benefit from its compelling advantages, their WAN infrastructure and its performance become a very important factor in IT deployments. Solutions that increase WAN performance, provide greater bandwidth utilization and intelligently manage traffic will continue to grow in popularity. Any enterprise that operates geographically dispersed sites across a WAN and plans to transition to a centralized private cloud IT model needs to look at how they can optimize their WAN for a successful cloud deployment and for a better user experience. 4

7 About Allstream Allstream is the only national communications provider working exclusively with business customers. Our focus is helping you simplify IT operations to improve productivity, maximize performance and manage costs. Our IP solutions are delivered on a fully managed, fully secure national network and backed by our industry-leading commitment to customer service: The Allstream Service Guarantee. Driven by the expertise of our 2,500 employees across Canada, we operate a 30,000 km fibre-optic network combining advanced IP connectivity, digital switching, Ethernet-featured services, and the latest security technologies. Our portfolio includes the highest-capacity voice, data and Internet connections, unified communications, and managed services, all flexibly designed for the needs of large, mid-market and small businesses. We can help you compete more profitably by converging voice and data over a single, reliable, end-toend infrastructure that delivers exceptional quality of service between metropolitan centres. To learn more about Allstream please visit

8 Allstream 200 Wellington Street West Toronto, Ontario M5V 3G2 Call, visit or follow us at: blog.allstream.com WP_22250 V2 11/14 Allstream Inc.

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