Moving Beyond Hardware-Based WAN Optimization with Today’s ADNs


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The workplace isn’t quite as defined at it once was. It does not exist within four walls, or even between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. In today’s global economy, the workplace is rapidly changing and its network needs are no longer simple solutions.
Workers, whether they are telecommuting one day a week, on a sales trip, or working in a small satellite office, need the same access to web-based applications as their colleagues in the corporate office. Take this statistic: Recent survey results found 84 percent of workers used at least one tool to enable remote working in the past month. For many companies, employees are using remote tools each and every day.

Today’s remote workers rely on a diverse suite of applications to do their jobs. ERP, CRM, supply chain management, and industry-specific applications to rich-client email, Web 2.0 tools and cloud-based applications are just a few of the crucial programs employees use every day. Workers need these web-based applications to run with low latency and high response time.

This isn’t a new problem, of course. Business reliance on web applications has been around for almost as long as the internet. But, many of the tried and true network solutions to create strong access points no longer meet the requirements of the increasingly mobile employee.

This workplace trend, coupled with increasing consolidation efforts at secure data centers, has put stress on the enterprise WAN. The once state-of-the-art hardware-based WAN acceleration products were not intended to be used in the way many enterprise businesses are using them today and even optimized solutions aren’t cutting it.

Let’s talk about where traditional WANs are falling short in the current business world, and then, discuss other solutions, such as a cloud-based application delivery network.


A 2013 McKinsey & Company survey evaluating the use of Web 2.0 tools in the workplace found 73 percent of companies are continuing to leverage social technologies internally and 74 percent of companies are using Web 2.0 applications to communicate with customers. The report also 65 percent of employees access at least one tool on a mobile device.

Remote workers are increasingly dependent on real-time communications with co-workers to collaborate, share information and work on dynamic content. These types of tools require a flexible infrastructure so workers from diverse locations (think the airport, coffee shops, home, satellite office, or on a smartphone) across the globe can call on these applications whenever they’re needed. Hardware-based WAN solutions used in this manner can lead to latency, bandwidth limitations, and unpredictable packet delivery. They simply aren’t flexible enough to handle today’s dynamic workplace environment.

Provisioning Time

With a hardware-based WAN strategy, IT professionals must constantly tend to the hardware. Meaning, if a new satellite office opens, or a home-based employee joins the team, IT has to deploy new hardware into the network. This can delay on-boarding time, as well as cause disruptions in the regular course of business if hardware fails (which it inevitably does).

Total Cost of Ownership

A hardware-based WAN network has a large capital outlay, as well as routine maintenance costs. Routers, access devices, network security, upgrades to hardware, cooling mechanisms, and consulting services to fine-tune network performance are just a few examples of one-time and ongoing costs. Once a network reaches critical mass with a hardware-based solution, it can become difficult to switch to a new vendor or execute a new strategy.

Performance and Security

Choosing between security and performance is not something IT professionals want to do. Both are equally essential to the success of the enterprise. But, that can happen with WAN optimization devices. This type of hardware relies on compression and QoS techniques to perform protocol-aware application acceleration. The technology can examine packet streams to prioritize time-sensitive traffic over normal traffic.

To gain these benefits from WAN optimization methods, such as RDP/SSL or other secure remote connection methods, the application administrators must disable the ingrained compression and encryption techniques. This forces application owners to make a decision they don’t want to make: performance or security?

The Application Delivery Network Alternative

The case has been made that web-based applications are only as good as the network that delivers the information. Consider that for a second more. A business can have the most state-of-the-art application that enables workers to do their jobs better, but all that is for naught if it is dependent on a network that stutters every step of the way.

A cloud-based solution – in the form of an application delivery network (ADN) – can help businesses overcome the challenges inherent in a hardware-based WAN.

Working as a suite of technologies, an ADN offers elasticity and higher performance across a global workplace without significant capital investment or increased labor cost. To speed up end-user delivery, an ADN reduces server latency by distributing the data load evenly across multiple servers. This reduces the possibility of any one server getting overloaded.

Utilizing points-of-presence (PoPs) all over the world, an ADN is able to provide equal service to employees in remote areas. As a business grows, the ADN is able to absorb the additional traffic, creating a scalable IT solution.

And that question of choosing performance over security? An ADN can provide a secure environment for the transfer and exchange of data and, unlike the traditional WAN, as a managed service it does not attempt to decipher packet data or decrypt RDP/SSL. The application owner maintains full control of the web applications at all times.

Final thoughts

In today’s increasing global marketplace, enterprises face the challenge of ensuring continuity and productivity across its workforce. There’s a lot to consider when determining the best networking solution for any business. An ADN supports today’s fast-paced, mobile and global businesses by providing speedy delivery and secure transactions. CDNetworks offers a host of options that can improve application and website performance.

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