Monday, November 8, 2010

Optimizing Windows 7 Desktop Delivery over WAN using Cisco WAAS

As the migration to Windows 7 as the desktop operating system picks up, IT organizations are looking at hosting desktops in the data center using Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) as the desktop delivery method. We are finding that this is especially popular in the finance, healthcare, and federal verticals where security and compliance makes VDI an attractive choice. Moreover, IT managers in other vertical industries are interested in this technology as a flexible option to serve their employees while assisting with their desktop management goals.

One of the ongoing dilemmas for IT continues to be ensuring a good user experience for any new method used for delivering applications to end users. Many users are in remote branch offices, campus locations, or are mobile; as a result these users are separated from the data center by the Wide Area Network (WAN). Limited bandwidth (per user) on the WAN pipes, high WAN latencies, packet loss, and more often a combination of all three, impacts the user experience significantly. This is where the Cisco WAN optimization solution (Cisco WAAS) can assist IT with delivering a rich Windows 7 user experience to remote users while reducing the need for bandwidth upgrades.

If one looks at the usage profile, users are typically using productivity applications (eg: email, web, document preparation, presentations, etc), and accessing corporate videos for training as well as printing documents. These users are accustomed to getting a rich experience using applications locally on their Windows 7 desktops. The goal of the Cisco WAAS solution is to maintain this rich experience when the desktop moves to the data center, and is delivered using a VDI delivery protocol such as Microsoft RDP over the WAN.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Virtual WAN Optimization: Enabling Application Migration to the Cloud

A growing trend in networking is the migration of applications to the cloud as organizations look to take advantage of deployment flexibility and lower management costs. This was the theme at VMWorld in San Francisco recently, where Cisco had major presence, and presented on our capabilities in the network that enable virtualization. Virtual Machine (VM) technology is the foundation for cloud migration, but for a complete solution that overcomes challenges with security, availability and performance, network services need to be incorporated into the virtualized architecture.

To meet the requirement for providing network services in the cloud Cisco has announced Unified Network Services (UNS) as a component of the Data Center Business Advantage architecture. UNS provides flexibility and choice in the adoption of network and compute services in both physical and virtual formats, unified by operation simplicity. The UNS architecture delivers a utility-based consumption model for network services that is promised by the cloud computing model. There are a number of technologies within this architecture including security, server load balancing and WAN optimization.

Let’s take look at application performance as an example of how network services enable application delivery from the cloud. As organizations move applications to the cloud performance is impacted due to the extra network hops back to the organization’s data center and out to the branch offices. To overcome performance issues organizations need to be able to easily deploy WAN optimization and seamlessly scale it in cloud environments. Cloud computing drives different deployment requirements for WAN optimization then with a typical data center based application deployment model. To deploy WAN optimization for applications in the cloud organizations need a deployment model that is agile and elastic, providing on-demand instantiation & provisioning. The WAN optimization service must be transparent to the location of the applications and to mobility of the application server virtual machines. For scalability WAN optimization needs to be multi-tenant without increasing the hardware footprint. A virtual form-factor is essential to achieve these requirements.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Cisco WAAS Delivers Breakthrough Innovations as a part of the Cisco Data Center 3.0 Initiative

Software as a service and cloud computing offer greater IT flexibility and potential cost savings but place more of a burden on the WAN, as the applications are more distributed. This impacts application performance and creates a challenge for IT organizations that are focused on providing a good user experience and improving end user productivity. This situation not only impacts users in the branch offices, but also the growing number of mobile workers and home workers.

As WAN & application optimization vendors evolve their products to solve these issues, Cisco WAAS stands out through its systems approach to enabling cloud offerings and tight integration with the network and the data center infrastructure. Cisco WAAS accelerates applications and data over the WAN, optimizes bandwidth, empowers cloud computing, and provides local hosting of branch IT services, all with industry-leading network integration.

On June 30, at Cisco Live! the release of Cisco WAAS 4.2 will be announced as a key component of our Data Center 3.0 launch delivering key innovations in the areas of service agility with on-demand deployment, higher efficiency with cloud-optimized applications and IT cost reduction with expanded Microsoft Windows application hosting and greater resiliency with in-line clustering. Visit the WAAS team at the Cisco Data Center booth to learn about the latest WAAS features and see the demos and get your questions answered.

Monday, May 31, 2010

How do You Consolidate Data When You Manufacture at Locations around the Globe?

This is the question that VF Corporation was faced with. They are a global leader in branded lifestyle apparel with more than 30 brands, including Wrangler, The North Face, Lee, Vans, and Nautica. They sell through retailers in 150 countries and their workforce is distributed across 770 global offices. To reduce IT costs they were consolidating branch office servers and applications in centralized data centers, but this created a challenge with transferring large CAD image files.

VF Corp used a Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) application for apparel design that was hosted on servers in the branch office. The IT department wanted to deploy a new application in the data center to reduce the costs of maintaining it and give them better control over data. The designers use this application all day every day and need access to the large CAD image files that it creates, so this move presented a challenge to the WAN over which these files would have to travel.

“When we tested the new application during development, downloading images over the WAN took an average of 2 to 3 minutes, and up to 5 minutes,” says Billy Yawn, the network architect, for VF Corporation. “Before deploying the application to branch offices, we needed a WAN acceleration solution.”

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Meeting the Challenge of Scaling Application Performance for the Global Organization

Many organizations are using server virtualization to consolidate application workloads in their datacenter. By using a highly efficient platform like Cisco Unified Computing System (UCS) organizations find that they can improve asset utilization, and dramatically lower IT costs. This enables the datacenter team to be more responsive to initiatives that produce real value for the business.

The server platform and virtualization address one part of the application delivery challenge for the global Enterprise. UCS can easily handle the compute requirements of complex applications, but what about the increased demand placed on the WAN as applications are delivered to a distributed workforce? How do you ensure an acceptable user experience? Accessing information over a WAN is much slower than accessing information over a LAN, due to limited WAN bandwidth, packet loss, and latency. To meet this challenge a solution needs to both scale the server platform and increase WAN performance.

Applications not only need to run fast in the datacenter; applications must run successfully for the end users wherever they may be. Organizations are finding that they must consider application acceleration as a part of their application solution architecture so that that they not only scale application performance on the server, but also delivery applications to reach remote sites with high performance to serve the users at every location.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Can Managed Service Providers Help the Enterprise Meet their Application Performance Goals?

The success of today’s enterprise relies on the performance of applications over the WAN. The use of bandwidth-intensive, web-based applications (such as videoconferencing and collaborative applications) that are utilized over the WAN creates a challenge for network managers who need to ensure application performance while dealing with limited resources. Application Performance Management (APM) requires monitoring tools and the expertise to use them. The question is how you ensure that you are properly optimizing your applications without having to invest in additional resources.

The answer to this situation could be to rely on your Managed Service Provider (MSP) to deliver an application performance management service. Outsourcing the management of the enterprise WAN could ease both your management burden and reduce IT costs while providing a way to ensure application performance. Many MSPs are meeting their customer’s needs to increase services while holding down costs by providing managed network, data center, and application services. However, to capitalize on these opportunities, managed service providers must overcome a number of challenges themselves.

MSPs are looking for ways to increase the value that they deliver to enterprise customers as traditional services become commonplace. Enterprise customers want more than a simple WAN pipe. They are looking for service level agreements for their critical applications and they want application performance assurance regardless of the connection type or the geographic location. At the same time both the Enterprise and the Managed Service Provider need to achieve a reasonable ROI on their IT investments.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

How Do You Extend WAN Optimization to Reach 30,000 Mobile Users?

Let’s say you are an IT manager and you are tasked with extending WAN optimization out to your small office and mobile workers and you have upwards of 30,000 users to serve. You might be looking at Cisco WAAS Mobile, a software-based WAN Optimization solution that provides application acceleration capabilities for PCs and decreases application response times by 3 to 30 times by mitigating latency and increasing link throughput.

Typically a deployment supporting 30,000 users would require several servers to host the mobile gateway, but it is likely that your mandate is to keep down the costs of the solution. A server that can scale to the required level and that offers the flexibility to use virtualization would make the best platform. Using virtualization is an ideal scenario for WAAS Mobile as it can be remotely installed on a virtual machine and remotely managed.

Our customers have told us that they have both scaling requirements and budget constraints, so we looked for the right solution to meet these needs. The answer is to deploy WAAS Mobile on the Cisco Unified Computing System UCS C-Series platforms, which are powerful, virtualization-optimized computing platforms that can host resource-intensive networking applications such as Cisco WAAS Mobile, providing scalability and deployment flexibility.

Monday, March 29, 2010

What is the Biggest Intangible Benefit of WAN optimization?

WAN optimization technologies have many benefits, some easily measured and others that are intangible. The latter might be more important to the organization. Many customers tell us that they realize both tangible and intangible benefits from deploying Cisco WAAS. Tangible benefits include reduced or avoided bandwidth costs, reductions in branch office servers and a reduced branch office equipment footprint. These cost savings are realized since Cisco WAAS eliminates duplicate data transmission, enables branch office server consolidation and integrates with the Cisco ISR router. These tangible benefits can be fairly easy to measure as we shall see. Intangible benefits can be more difficult to measure, but they can often be more compelling. Let’s look at an example of a customer who has experienced both types of benefits.

Recently a customer told us that they expect to save $400,000 per year by deploying Cisco WAAS. Brisbane Australia based mining and heavy equipment supplier Hastings Deering says they achieved a rapid ROI with their WAN optimization project that connects their data center and remote office locations. The Hastings Deering Group sells and supports Caterpillar heavy equipment used in the mining and construction industries across Queensland, the Northern Territory and the South Pacific region, including Papua New Guinea. With a network of 65 nodes connecting to corporate applications in Brisbane, CIO John Birch says there was a constant battle to keep branch response times low for all its applications. “About 18 months ago we decided to take a look at network options other than just increasing bandwidth and we started exploring WAN optimization products”

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Cable & Wireless: APM Managed Services Differentiation

Organizations are changing how they use the network to access applications and managed service providers are changing their network services to meet the challenge. As they centralize applications and access them across the WAN organizations need a network that delivers their applications with high performance and they need to see how their applications are performing. Managed service providers are meeting customer’s requirements by moving away from offering standard low feature WAN links and creating new innovative application performance management (APM) services that accelerate applications and provide customers with real-time information on the results that are being delivered.

In this video Steve Horwath, Product Manager at Cable & Wireless, talks with Stephen Makayi, Marketing Manager at Cisco, about the growing demand for application performance and the Cable & Wireless managed WAN optimization service, which provides customers with optimized application performance with advanced reporting, which in turn give customers information they can use to drive their business. Steve discusses how APM enables managed service providers to deliver an application-aware network with uptime guarantees for applications that changes the conversation MSPs can have with customers, from selling plain WAN links to providing application performance assurances, and putting the MSP in the role of a trusted advisor.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Fuji Television Uses Cisco WAAS to Accelerate their Vancouver Olympics Coverage

The Olympics give us a chance to marvel at and enjoy the performances of athletes who demonstrate their intense dedication to the pursuit of excellence and their determination in the face of fierce competition. The games are a worldwide event and with audiences in the home countries anxious to see their athletes’ performances national television stations also have a challenge that they must meet. Fuji TV of Japan is no exception. With a long history of Japanese participation in the winter Olympics and a large home audience to serve, they have set up shop in Vancouver. Making this trip can be a costly undertaking and given the distance back to Japan they needed help in keeping communications smooth and keeping costs down.

To communicate with the home office Fuji TV set up a dedicated line between the company’s data center in Odaiba, Japan and the Olympic Media Village in Vancouver, a distance of over 7500 km. This connection provides Intranet access enabling the on-site staff, including production and news employees, to access the head office file servers and use its systems. This long distance WAN access allows Fuji TV to avoid having to transport and install data and application servers at Vancouver and thus avoid the cost of additional on site staff to maintain these servers. By reducing staff the costs savings is considerable, including air travel, housing, transportation and food.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Forrester Acknowledges Cisco as a Leader among WAN Optimization Vendors

In their Q4 2009 WAVE report Forrester recognized Cisco WAAS as a market leader in WAN optimization in their comparison of the top 8 vendors, considering criteria such as the offering, strategy, market presence, and technology.

Forrester says that WAN optimization is increasing in importance to IT organizations and that business issues such as consolidating branch office servers and rolling out new collaborative applications are driving its adoption. This is because companies rely on the WAN for delivery of their business-critical services, but the WAN suffers from poor performance because of latency over distance.

Forrester advises that WAN optimization technology plays a critical role in improving application performance by using techniques such as caching, protocol optimization, compression, traffic management and quality of service (QoS), to increase effective throughput and mitigate latency, while providing visibility into the traffic mix.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Optimizing Delivery of Applications from the Cloud

The adoption of cloud-based computing promises to improve the agility, efficiency, and cost effectiveness of IT operations required to provision, scale, and deliver applications to the enterprise. As with other technology trends, delivering applications from the cloud, to remote sites, creates challenges with application performance, availability, and security.

Enterprise IT departments are continuing to invest in technologies that generate cost savings while making their business applications more agile and available. These initiatives, such as consolidation of branch-office servers and virtualization of data center servers, are increasingly being adopted by the enterprise; however, they have not been without consequences. For example, branch-office server consolidation projects, while reducing the server footprint, can result in a poor end-user experience and increased bandwidth utilization because applications traverse a WAN link with higher latency and packet loss and lower bandwidth than they traverse a LAN link. WAN optimization solutions, such as Cisco® Wide Area Application Services (WAAS), are implemented to deliver LAN-like application response times for end users and to defer a WAN bandwidth upgrade.

Optimizing your Hosted Virtual Desktop Delivery Architecture

Delivery of hosted virtualized desktops is seeing increasing up take by organizations that want to reduce the cost of deployment and management of end user systems. While desktop virtualization offers many advantages, there are benefits to be gained in performance, scaling and security that can be addressed by choosing the right hosting platform and networking components. By optimizing the network architecture organizations can host and deliver the highest number of view images and users sessions while keeping down the total cost of ownership.

For example by hosting virtual desktop images on the Cisco Unified Computing System organizations can greatly increase the number of images per server while reducing complexity, by taking advantage of capabilities such as memory capacity, virtualized adaptors, Unified Fabric and centralized management that is integrated with solutions from VMware.

By using Cisco ACE to provide server load-balancing services organizations can greatly increase the number of user sessions per server, while increasing system security, by taking advantage of SSL off load and TCP reuse capabilities and built in intelligent security functionality, and they can realize cost reduction through virtualization capabilities and integration with provisioning systems from VMware.