What to look for in WAN acceleration gear

IT pro praises active user groups, emphasizes training

Considering a WAN accelerator? Kevin Dunn, director of network operations at First Command, says these three features are must-haves. Read our case study on First Command's WAN acceleration project here.

1. An active user community. Each of the top four boxes Dunn evaluated for Web acceleration had vocal, helpful user groups. "Good user groups are always a big plus when you're bringing in a complex technology," he says, noting that F5 Networks' user group often posts innovative iRules to help in customizing the box. "If a product does not have a strong user community, that's a red flag for us."

2. Clear roadmap. As he learned firsthand when Juniper shut down its DX line, Dunn says it's important to be clear on your product of choice's future roadmap. "We always have roadmap conversations with the vendors," he says. "Unfortunately, we didn't have the Juniper DX in-house long enough to have that conversation."

3. Training. Dunn says the best products include good vendor training. "Don't wait and try to purchase the training later," he says. "Always include the training in your project cost, especially with complex technologies like load balancers and network devices, because you're making a capital investment. Buying a really flexible tool is not a good investment unless you also invest in learning how to make the best use of that tool to support your business."

Cummings is a freelance writer in the US. She can be reached at jocummings@comcast.net.

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