Robert MacIntyre-HeadshotCloud storage is positioned to be one of the hottest IT trends of 2012. At the same time network WAN performance has been identified as a key inhibitor to cloud storage adoption, according to NetEx, a leading company providing a WAN optimization virtual appliance solution.

Unstructured data growth is far outpacing line speed improvements and the cost to achieve LAN-like speeds over Wide Area Network connections to cloud storage sites negates any cost savings that migrating terabytes of storage to the cloud can achieve.
Here are five reasons WAN optimization is a necessary component of any cloud storage initiative:

1. Provides the necessary acceleration to make cloud storage viable for backup, replication and disaster recovery.
Performance can make or break a cloud storage operation. Despite the economic benefits, the service only makes sense if users can get their data with response times that do not impact productivity. And the only cost-effective way to implement this is with WAN optimization.
A collection of network issues -- bandwidth restrictions, network latency, poor line quality and network errors slow down access times to cloud storage repositories to the point that the economic model breaks down and it becomes more cost-efficient because of application performance to store data locally. The performance boost of WAN optimization restores the economic advantage for cloud storage.

2. Virtual WAN optimizers are an ideal fit for cloud infrastructure.
Data center-to data center backup and replication is giving way to data center to cloud data movement. One of the hallmarks of cloud storage repositories is a highly-virtualized infrastructure. Virtualization of servers and storage provides the agility to accommodate rapidly changing workloads and to quickly spin up new virtual servers and virtual WAN optimization appliances to handle dynamic migration, replication and DR operations. Instead of requiring expensive proprietary hardware platforms with associated support and spare parts costs, WAN optimization virtual appliances can quickly and simply be deployed on a cloud provider’s standardized commodity hardware, allowing the WAN optimization appliance to be immediately provisioned at the cloud location.

3. Performance Scalability.
Closely tied to the flexibility provided by a virtualized infrastructure is the ability of a WAN optimizer to provide scalable performance across a range of dynamic workload and data recovery requirements. For cloud storage to be effective the data has to be at the right place at the right time. This can be a costly exercise for Managed Service Providers who fail to meet Service Level Agreements because of data delivery shortfalls. Companies need to look for WAN optimizers that can scale performance to 1 Gbps or more without requiring the rip and replace upgrades and installation of a new physical appliance at each end of a WAN connection.) This is another area where virtual WAN optimization appliances carry a clear advantage.

4. Application Support.
Cloud storage is increasingly used as a disaster recovery site so it is essential that a cloud-centric WAN optimizer provide broad support for the leading DR, backup/recovery and replication applications. When deploying WAN optimization for cloud storage it isn’t enough to simply optimize the line between a data center and the cloud but to enable application optimization with support for applications such as EMC SRDF and Data Domain Replication, VMware vMotion and Storage vMotion, Symantec NetBackup, Replication Exec, Volume Replicator, IBM Tivoli Storage Manager, Veeam Backup & Replication and more.

5. Optimizes the economic benefits cloud storage.
Companies are turning to cloud storage for the economic advantage of utility storage instead of the higher capital and operational costs of building and managing remote data centers. However, the cost benefits can quickly be consumed by the expenses of high bandwidth required to move mountains of data when confronted with the low line utilization and performance limitations of conventional TCP/IP connections. For a modest incremental cost, WAN optimizers intelligently manage the data transfers to maximize line utilization. Add in adaptive block level data reduction compression functionality of advanced WAN optimizers and you get a speed boost of 10x or more freeing replication and DR applications to run at line speeds. The bandwidth savings alone can cover the cost of a WAN optimization solution in less than three months, meeting today’s IT mantra of doing more with less.

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