A few years back I was living outside the US with my family and working from my home office, specifically my attic. When you’re a remote or mobile employee your work experience is a little different than when you’re in the main corporate office. To a certain extent the same can be said if you’re located in a branch site away from headquarters. How is it different? For the most part it’s simply how well things work. When you’re remote, everything seems to take longer and be a little more difficult.
Let me give you an example. Have you ever been in a remote office and tried downloading a file from a shared drive on the corporate network? I have and it was a slow process. How about accessing an internal web-based application? Same thing. Anytime data, whether it’s a file or an app, is sent back and forth over the WAN it tends to slow down. Bandwidth issues aside, this repeated transmission gets bogged down when the contents of the entire file are sent between the sites. Using an application results in the same experience – slow, unproductive and ultimately frustrating. While the application itself may not be performing slowly in actuality, the experience of the user in the remote office is that it is, and perception is reality.
What can you do to improve the experience for these employees and speed up the performance of WAN applications and file sharing between sites? The answer is WAN acceleration, also known as WAN optimization. WAN acceleration technology provides organizations with a range of benefits including:
- Giving users at remote/branch office sites LAN-like application performance
- Reducing bandwidth consumption
- Improving browser response times to frequently-visited websites
- Minimizing latency on the network
- Optimizing network efficiency
How does it do all this? At a high level, WAN (Wide Area Network) acceleration technology decreases traffic volumes by only transmitting new or changed data across the network after initial file transfer instead of resending the entire file. Think of a Microsoft Word or PowerPoint document that’s sent back and forth between users or accessed from a shared drive through Windows File Sharing. The decrease in traffic between sites cuts down on the latency users experience while also consuming less bandwidth. Behind the scenes, WAN acceleration uses several techniques to accomplish this including byte and file caching, protocol optimization and data compression algorithms. There’s also HTTP web caching for faster access to sites users repeatedly visit.
For organizations that have multiple sites with employees who share information and access applications remotely, WAN acceleration may be the solution. If you think yours may be one, here are some questions you should ask yourself to get started.
- Is my organization looking for ways to improve employee productivity?
- Are my organization’s network bandwidth requirements outpacing our current service plan?
- Do our remote office employees complain the network is slow and that this impacts access to applications?
- Are our employees using applications such as Microsoft Windows File Sharing, SharePoint, Office or FTP?
- Do we want to reduce internet-bound HTTP web traffic?
There are a number of WAN optimization solutions available to distributed organizations with remote and branch offices. One of those is theSonicWall™ WAN Acceleration Appliance (WXA) Series. An add-on product to SonicWall next-generation firewalls, the WXA series reduces application latency and conserves bandwidth, significantly enhancing WAN application performance and improving the end user experience, all at a low total cost of ownership compared to other WAN optimization products. To learn more about the benefits of WAN acceleration and how SonicWall WXA series solutions can help you achieve them, read our eBook titled “10 ways to securely optimize your network.”