Cisco Wide Area Application Services Software Version 4.1: Consolidate File and Print Servers

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1 Cisco Wide Area Application Services Software Version 4.1: Consolidate File and Print Servers What You Will Learn This document describes how you can use Cisco Wide Area Application Services (WAAS) Software to resolve escalating costs and administrative complexity in branch offices by consolidating file and print servers. Challenge Large enterprises continue to distribute the workplace into branch offices to gain real-estate cost benefits, flexibility to hire personnel across disparate geographies, and more closely address the needs of their customers and partners. However, this shift can increase IT costs and complexity as IT departments face the challenges associated with managing local file servers and storage resources in growing numbers of distributed sites. Few organizations today can afford to employ local IT staff in tens, hundreds, or even thousands of locations, as well as manage and back up the large amount of data stored locally. Traditionally, the addition of a branch office means extra equipment to manage and data to secure and track. Further, file sizes are generally increasing, in part because of the deployment of more sophisticated applications that take advantage of multimedia capabilities. Data storage requirements are also on the rise because of regulatory compliance mandates. The compliance mandates, such as Sarbanes-Oxley, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), and the Gramm-Leach Bliley Act, require much closer auditing and record keeping of network and data access than in the past and so make managing multiple, redundant server and backup resources across the country or globe impractical. Consolidating file and storage resources into the data center eases management, administration, cost, and compliance. However, the difficulty is that the centralization of resources creates significant performance problems for remote users accessing centralized file and print services. There are three primary reasons for these problems: WANs are slower than LANs. Long distances in the WAN add latency to file and print service requests. File service and print protocols are "chatty," often requiring hundreds or thousands of round-trip client-server message exchanges for even the most trivial operations. Chattiness adds additional latency to file service requests. As a result, standard file access protocols perform poorly over the WAN. How can the enterprise balance the need for centralized file and print service management with the high performance typically required in its branch offices? 2009 Cisco Systems, Inc. All rights reserved. This document is Cisco Public Information. Page 1 of 7

2 Business Benefits Cisco WAAS Software enables enterprises to gain the benefits of centralized storage and contain costs while still maintaining local file service performance for branch-office users. Cisco WAAS enables the consolidation of branch-office file servers and storage into central file servers or network-attached-storage (NAS) devices through the use of intelligent caching, proxy, and WAN transport optimization technologies. Additionally, Cisco WAAS enables several alternative solutions for print services. Cisco WAAS can intelligently accelerate CIFS printing traffic over the WAN to allow centralization of print services in the data center. This feature helps reduce the branch-office infrastructure without compromising printing performance and is transparent to the existing printer and queue management architectures, Alternatively local Windows Print Server can be hosted on the WAAS virtualization platform and managed centrally by standard Microsoft management tools... These capabilities resolve the performance problems associated with users who have to access file and print services over the latency-prone, bandwidth-constrained, and overutilized WAN. Solution: Branch-Office Consolidation Without Compromise Cisco WAAS provides a local file service interface for the standard Common Internet File System (CIFS) and Network File System (NFS) file services. It also applies optimizations where appropriate to reduce the local site s dependence on the WAN for access to stored data. Cisco WAAS addresses the enterprise branch-office challenges of redundant equipment and management costs by removing the requirements for multiple, costly data components at every enterprise site. By centralizing resources while maintaining local file and print service performance, enterprises can dramatically reduce their branch-office total cost of ownership (TCO). For example, redundant file and print servers can be eliminated as well as the costs of licensing and management for server and backup software, tape drives, cartridges, and cartridge shipping. The use of Cisco WAAS also eliminates the administrative difficulties and tasks associated with dispersed local file servers. IT staff no longer must battle general-purpose server operating system viruses and keep up with frequent operating system patching across a multitude of sites. IT administrators can centrally manage file services such as usage quotas, backups, disaster recovery, restore operations, access control, and security policies. Cisco WAAS software also reduces TCO by enabling resource sharing. Rather than storing multiple copies of the same files across large numbers of locations that must be kept synchronized and secured, Cisco WAAS makes it possible to keep a single copy of a file in the data center enabling global collaboration. In an environment with 50 branch offices, rather than requiring 51 silos for data protection (one in each branch plus one in the data center), the enterprise requires just one data silo for the entire company: in the data center. This setup eliminates the need to maintain multiple copies of files and the complex job of synchronizing files across sites. Similarly, consider the benefits of shared storage resources: If 50 branch offices each need the same 100 gigabytes of information and each has a copy, the enterprise must invest in and support 5 terabytes of data storage capacity. However, with the 50 sites sharing one copy of the 100- gigabyte set of files, the enterprise realizes a 50-fold reduction in storage requirements. These are among the many reasons that enterprises using the Cisco WAAS approach to centralized management have found that the payback on their investment in Cisco WAAS and associated hardware occurs in less than 6 months Cisco Systems, Inc. All rights reserved. This document is Cisco Public Information. Page 2 of 7

3 Figure 1 shows a typical customer deployment leveraging Cisco Wide Area Application Services. Figure 1. Cisco WAAS Typical Deployment LAN-Like Performance on the WAN Cisco WAAS uses several basic capabilities to enable LAN-like performance on the WAN, while allowing file and storage resources to be consolidated and managed centrally in the data center: Protocol-specific optimization, including CIFS, NFS, and Windows print services Intelligent caching Support for local print services Network-layer optimization Virtual blades on Cisco WAAS, allowing deployment of Microsoft Windows Server on WAAS (WoW) These capabilities are fundamental in the Cisco WAAS software, which operates on a Cisco Wide Area Application Engine (WAE) and Cisco Wide Area Virtualization Engine (WAVE) at the branch. Available as a standalone appliance or as a network module for Cisco Integrated Services Routers, the Cisco WAE hardware platform with Cisco WAAS Software consolidates the functions of multiple file and print server related devices to reduce capital and operating expenses. At the same time, it enables additional protection of data stored centrally in the data center, where the enterprise IT personnel with the greatest experience in data protection are typically found. Cisco WAAS offers the following main capabilities: Protocol optimization: Cisco WAAS provides an intelligent interface for the CIFS and NFS protocols in the branch office. File service signaling, noncritical messages, and chatter are terminated locally rather than across the latency-prone WAN, thereby dramatically improving performance. Cisco WAAS also provides protocol-level optimizations for Windows print services, allowing the use of a central print server, while maintaining the desired level of user experience for remote branch-office workers Cisco Systems, Inc. All rights reserved. This document is Cisco Public Information. Page 3 of 7

4 Intelligent caching: Cisco WAAS provides LAN-like read and write access to files stored on the data center file servers and NAS devices, using two forms of caching. With data read caching, when a user opens a file, a copy is stored on the local device. With each subsequent request, Cisco WAAS checks whether the data has changed; if the data has not changed, Cisco WAAS serves the file as a local request, with LAN-like performance. This setup not only helps reduce the amount of bandwidth consumed when accessing files, but also helps ensure that a stale file is never served. Cisco WAAS does not require the entire file to be cached before information is served from a file. Read requests can be served from a file that is partially cached, assuming that the requested segments are cached. Cisco WAAS can also read ahead within the file to increase the likelihood of future cache hits to enhance performance. With data write caching, when a user performs a file write operation, Cisco WAAS checks the type of write operation. If the type of write operation requires a server commitment, as when saving or closing the file, the write operation propagates synchronously to help ensure data integrity. If the write operation does not require an immediate commitment, Cisco WAAS applies safe write optimizations to improve application responsiveness. Metadata such as file attributes and directory information is also cached and served to requesting users locally to improve the user experience. Support for local and central print services: The Cisco WAAS implementation is unique in that it supports complete local Windows print services as well as optimization for central print services. Generally, eliminating a file server from a branch site would also entail removing a print server. If the print server relocates to the data center, local print jobs would have to traverse the WAN, where print performance is notoriously poor. Using printerspecific protocols and print formats, a 100-kilobyte print job might grow by an order of magnitude. By providing two alternative print solutions, either supporting local print services or optimizing central print traffic, Cisco WAAS enables consolidation of file servers without entailing any print performance penalties. Network layer optimization: Any time the CIFS or NFS protocol does need to use the WAN, Cisco WAAS helps ensure that it does so efficiently. Data compression speeds throughput and reduces WAN congestion. Pipelining packs multiple messages into a common shipment to reduce the effect of WAN latency, and multiplexing enables multiple simultaneous conversations between edge and core devices. These functions all speed response times and overcome challenges in high-packet-loss WAN environments. Microsoft Windows Server on WAAS (WoW): Cisco WAAS is also a branch-office infrastructure consolidation platform, allowing administrators to run branch-office-critical services on a Cisco WAAS platform using virtual blades. Cisco WAAS enables reduction of CIFS and NFS file sharing traffic over WAN link due to its DRE and LZ compound compression, as well as time improvement for typical File Server traffic transactions due to its NFS and CIFS specific optimizations. Figure 2 and 3 show a Cisco WAAS performance improvement for CIFS and NFS traffic over WAN with Mbps bandwidth and 80 ms RTT latency Cisco Systems, Inc. All rights reserved. This document is Cisco Public Information. Page 4 of 7

5 Figure 2. Cisco WAAS improvement for CIFS traffic Figure 3. Cisco WAAS improvement for NFS traffic Branch-Office Consolidation with WoW In addition to providing powerful WAN optimization and application acceleration services that enable infrastructure consolidation and performance improvements, Cisco WAAS is a branchoffice infrastructure consolidation platform, which allows the migration of branch-office-critical services onto the extensible Cisco WAAS platform using virtual blades. The Cisco The Cisco Wide Area Virtualization Engine (WAVE) appliances and the WAE-674 have an embedded hypervisor and requisite services for resource provisioning that allow enterprises to deploy WoW in a safe, secure, efficient, and transparent manner. This feature allows customers to maintain certain critical services in the branch office, including Microsoft Active Directory, Domain Name System (DNS), Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP), file sharing, and print services, while using far less infrastructure hardware than was previously possible, and saving associated capital and operating costs Cisco Systems, Inc. All rights reserved. This document is Cisco Public Information. Page 5 of 7

6 The benefits provided by virtual blades on Cisco WAAS include: Lower TCO: Fewer infrastructure devices are required at the branch office, reducing power and cooling requirements and the rack footprint along with ongoing operating and capital expenses. Transparent integration: Transparent integration into existing Microsoft management technologies, including Microsoft Management Console (MMC) and network services such as Microsoft Active Directory. Further, access to the virtual blade can be fully optimized and accelerated by Cisco WAAS. Platform and service isolation: Dedicated resources (CPU, memory, and disk) are allocated to the virtual blade, isolating resources from interference from other virtual blades and from the underlying WAN optimization and application acceleration services. IT agility: Infrastructure services and applications can be deployed throughout the network in a way that provides exceptional flexibility. Solution Deployment and Management The Cisco WAAS solution involves deploying a Cisco WAE (in an appliance or router module form factor) with the Cisco WAAS Software at each branch office and providing application acceleration, WAN optimization and local Windows print services with LAN-like file access over the WAN. Another Cisco WAE with Cisco WAAS Software resides at the data center and connects directly to file servers or NAS gateways to process WAN-optimized file requests on behalf of the remote Cisco WAAS deployment. The Cisco WAAS Central Manager provides remote management and monitoring of all Cisco WAAS deployments. All configuration and administration for hundreds to thousands of nodes are performed from a central network operations center (NOC) using the Cisco WAAS Central Manager. The system organizes devices by common administrative units and enables centralized software distribution, upgrades, and monitoring. The Cisco WAAS solution does not require installation of software on client workstations, file servers, or NAS devices. Fully transparent to the end user and the file server, Cisco WAAS integrates transparently into the existing network and file storage infrastructure. Resources for the virtual blades are provisioned centrally on the Cisco WAAS Central Manager for unified and centralized management, allowing enterprises to specify the number of CPUs, amount of memory, and amount of disk capacity to be allocated to each of the virtual blades for each Cisco WAAS WAE. A virtual blade boot image (ISO or other format) can be transferred to the remote Cisco WAE in an optimized manner and then mounted and initialized. Optimized remote access, administration, ownership, and ongoing management of the virtual blade can be delegated to the appropriate IT business stakeholder to help ensure transparent integration into the existing business process. Conclusion Enterprises face significant cost, management, and security challenges as they attempt to scale file servers and storage capacity at each of an increasing number of branch sites. In addition, requirements for protecting data generated in branch offices are becoming stricter due to regulatory compliance mandates. Complying with these factors has the potential to increase an enterprise's branch-office TCO if each branch office requires file servers hardware and software and management associated with distributed data protection, recovery, and business continuance Cisco Systems, Inc. All rights reserved. This document is Cisco Public Information. Page 6 of 7

7 Enterprises can address these concerns and gain the benefits of centralized file and print services, management, and resource sharing without compromising the performance expectations of branch-office users. The Cisco WAAS solution,, enables organizations to consolidate their file servers and storage from remote branch offices into the data center, where IT personnel and data protection infrastructure are readily available. This consolidation can result in dramatic cost savings through the elimination of redundant equipment, storage space, software licenses, and computing resources. To help ensure that this new topology does not affect local-user response times in each branch office, Cisco WAAS overcomes WAN latency and bandwidth limitations by applying protocol- and network-specific optimizations to maintain application responsiveness while reducing WAN utilization. For More Information For more information visit: Printed in USA C / Cisco Systems, Inc. All rights reserved. This document is Cisco Public Information. Page 7 of 7

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