SD-WAN Without WAN Optimization is Like Peanut Butter Without Jelly

By Derek Granath, Senior Director, Product and Technical Marketing
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SD-WAN vs. WAN Optimization

Optimization of applications and data traffic has been an integral part of the WAN since its inception. WAN optimization accelerates application traffic by overcoming latency and reducing the amount of data traversing the WAN by applying techniques like protocol acceleration, deduplication, compression, reduced latency and caching to dramatically increase the amount of available bandwidth.

Today, enterprises are rapidly adopting SD-WAN as a preferred solution when rearchitecting their WANs. SD-WAN is transforming the way networks support enterprise applications, dramatically increasing application performance by intelligently controlling and more efficiently utilizing all available WAN transport resources.

Some believe that SD-WAN reduces or in some cases eliminates the need for more aggressive WAN optimization techniques. However, in most cases, additional performance is still required for specific applications or geographically remote locations. SD-WAN and WAN optimization solve fundamentally different problems. They are complementary when deployed together.

Latency: Can we defeat the laws of physics?

The time it takes for information to go from sender to receiver and back is referred to as network latency. As the distance between locations increases over the WAN, especially for remote international sites with low speed transport or where there are long backhauls, performance degrades for some applications. This has less to do with the available bandwidth and more to do with the time it takes to send and receive data packets over distance and the number of times data must be re-transmitted.

Why add WAN Optimization?

When branch offices are deployed as part of a broadband or hybrid WAN, enterprises may require higher performance for specific latency-sensitive or data-intensive applications or locations, for example, file transfers or disaster recovery.

In fact, a 2018 Frost and Sullivan SD-WAN global survey reveals that WAN optimization remains critical for businesses. In the study, 67 percent of US IT decision makers indicated WAN optimization remains critical to them and they would ideally like it to be integrated with SD-WAN. Global IT decision makers ranked integrated WAN optimization as #3 criteria when selecting vendors.

A new on-demand consumption model for WAN Optimization

With more applications moving to the cloud (SaaS/IaaS) and the increased adoption of pay-as-you-use cloud consumption pricing model for the amount of bandwidth available, traditional appliance-based WAN optimization may no longer be practical. Rather, WAN optimization should be delivered on demand: only when and where it’s required. This granularity enables enterprises to decide which applications to optimize along with the specific locations where the optimization is to be applied, thereby lowering the total cost of WAN optimization.

SD-WAN with Unified WAN Optimization

Aruba Boost is an optional WAN optimization software performance pack that is unified with the Aruba EdgeConnect SD-WAN edge platform. It is embedded within the same EdgeConnect software image, and it is not a separate, service-chained virtual network function or physical appliance. It is delivered on-demand with the click of a mouse from the Aruba Orchestrator GUI,  to create a single, fully unified platform, thereby reducing cost, increasing application performance and delivering the highest quality of experience to end users. The solution also offers visibility into what applications are optimized and by how much.

For enterprises like Solis Mammography, a national leader in mammography and imaging services, Boost became a critical part of its WAN infrastructure to accelerate the transfer of large files over a mix of MPLS and broadband connections. The nightly image prefetch time reduced from 13 hours to 4.5 hours. Medical experts at a particular location are now able to analyze images from multiple locations to provide a diagnosis more quickly, delivering higher quality care by staying in one location instead of having to waste time traveling to multiple sites.

WAN Optimization and SD-WAN: Better together

An SD-WAN solution with unified WAN optimization creates a truly high-performance WAN that can maximize end-user application experience at all locations. Together they provide the most optimum infrastructure possible for all business applications.

Enterprises looking to implement a comprehensive SD-WAN and WAN optimization solution should select a single, fully unified platform that allows the flexibility to support WAN optimization on demand.

Additionally, service providers have an opportunity to create flexible, managed, tiered SD-WAN offerings that include an additional, non-disruptive service option such as WAN optimization-as-a-service. Not only does this provide additional performance benefits for enterprise customers, it can create an additional revenue stream for a service provider.

So if you really like a good peanut butter and jelly sandwich, you should never go for SD-WAN without unified WAN optimization.

This blog was originally published by Silver Peak, which was acquired by Aruba, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise Company.