This is a trick question!
Technically, there is not a difference between WAN optimization and WAN acceleration. As a matter of fact, WAN acceleration is a type of WAN optimization.
Now that we have cleared that up, we can now get into WAN optimization and what you can do to make the most out of your bandwidth.
Chatty applications weighing your WAN down
The most common complaint a sysadmin experiences is that the network is slow. We all know that programs other than those are business-critical are in use. We know you don’t want to point fingers, but we know who you are. The purpose of a WAN optimization device is to prioritize business-critical programs so that they run smoothly.
Employees do spend time doing non-work activities while on the clock. According to a survey from Netflix, 37% of participants admitted to using their streaming service during work. Which means that your bandwidth is likely being used to watch movies and videos while on the clock. With a WAN optimization solution, you can control which programs can be used including blocking culprits from catching up on their favorite TV shows while they should be updating the latest TPS report.
When in doubt accelerate your WAN
When we talk about accelerating the WAN, we are talking about things that WAN accelerators can do to reduce the amount of bandwidth required or improve the efficiency of communications between a client and a server that are separated by a WAN.
WANs typically have lower bandwidth and higher latency than LAN links, so every little bit helps. Many WAN links are also consumption bases, so the less bandwidth consumed, the lower the overall costs are. Even when you have enough bandwidth and low latency, WAN accelerators can save money by reducing WAN costs by more than they cost to purchase and maintain.
The go-to solution of getting more bandwidth is no longer right way to get the most out of your network. In the long run, you will end up not having any left and have to look for another way to maximize productivity. Just as you can zip a file to reduce its size, WAN accelerators can reduce the application payloads to minimize the amount of bandwidth required to transmit data.
Of course, these days, almost all web servers and modern browsers support GZip compression, and web developers are optimizing and minimizing their code and using more efficient image formats, so there’s not a lot of slack or redundancy in there for a WAN accelerator to work with. Now all the WAN accelerator has to do is optimize the information.
Policies help a business run better
WAN optimizers like Exinda Network Orchestrator have the added benefit of configuring policies. As mentioned before, you can control how traffic is shaped by creating group application categories like “recreational”, “streaming”, and “business-critical”. On top of that, you can allow permissions for each group. For example, if you know the marketing department needs YouTube, you can give them access while blocking someone in the accounting department.
Exinda policies are what control how traffic is shaped, based on applications, IPs, users, or VLANs. If policies are set up by using Application Groups, as new applications come out (or current applications show a spike in usage), it is possible to simply add them to the Application Groups, restart the optimizer and allow for traffic to flow automatically without needing to create dedicated specific policies for each new application.
Now that you know that a WAN accelerator is a type of WAN optimizer, you are on your way. Accelerating your bandwidth will give you sysadmin a little bit of a break and fewer complaints that the network is slow.
There’s a ton more where that came from. To learn “Everything you ever wanted to know about WAN acceleration but were afraid to ask”, download the ebook here.