WAN optimization continues growth

Geographically distributed enterprises are warming to the idea of reducing data transfer times with dedicated appliances as another vendor, Riverbed Technology, enters the local market.

David Speare, IT manager of Brisbane-based food processing equipment supplier Heat and Control, recently investigated compression technology in response to a need for more rapid transfer of the company's large repositories of CAD databases at several locations around the world.

With drafting and engineering staff regularly sharing data by collaborating on projects, Heat and Control invested $35,950 in three of Riverbed's Steelhead appliances, one in Australia, China, and India.

"We anticipate, with our expansion into manufacturing in China and India, that the volume of inter-office transfers of CAD data alone will increase substantially in the next year," Speare said, adding that if the investment represented a saving of three man-hours per week, the ROI for the project would be 32 weeks.

Speare said Riverbed was chosen because it was a "drop in" solution that seemed to require minimal ongoing management.

"Installation was very simple at less than one hour, including testing [and] Riverbed provided a simple, one-page configuration sheet," he said, adding it is too early to benchmark the performance improvement as the installation was done this month.

Although conceding Heat and Control had a specific data transfer problem to resolve, Speare said if staff time is being genuinely lost through waiting for large volumes of integrated data to be moved to the desktop, then there is a good business case for minimizing this lost time by speeding up transmission of the data through compression.

"Only if a business had a genuine loss of staff time, because of the wait for data transmission to complete, would the expense of compression technology be justifiable," he said.

Riverbed's Australia and New Zealand regional director Steve Dixon said WAN optimization companies started with compression, but Riverbed approached the problem from the different angle of caching at a binary level.

"Our technology looks at patterns in files and complements compression," Dixon said. "We send reference points to the data and can achieve 384-to-one compression for the same amount of data packets as our competitors which do four-to-one."

Dixon said the challenge for Australia's geographically dispersed enterprises is not about removing latency, but to get the remote sites to perform well enough to allow backups to a central site.

Riverbed opened the local office six weeks ago and has Jones Lang Lasalle, Blue Star Printing, and Heat and Control as customers.

"Riverbed appliances include auto-discovery capability to [allow] optimizing immediately," Dixon said, adding they can be managed centrally and provide reporting and diagnostics.

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