Skip to main content

WAN acceleration: Why cloud automation isn’t enough in 2022

wan concept europe
(Image credit: Getty)

For a number of years, every company and every person has become increasingly dependent on cloud computing (opens in new tab) in its many disguises. The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated digital transformation (opens in new tab) in many organisations, aided by work from home orders; and stay at home orders have created shifts in purchasing behaviour, away from the High Street or Main Street to e-commerce.

Brian McHugh writes, in his blog for ‘IT Automation Without Boundaries’, on Gartner’s IT Automation Trends for 2022 (opens in new tab) for Advanced Systems Concepts: “The pandemic has permanently disrupted the way we work, shop and access services. In response, enterprise organisations will continue to shift towards digital-first business models and cloud-native operations in 2022, with big implications for IT automation.”

As McHugh suggests, this reliance on everything cloud (opens in new tab) will continue to increase over the next few years, and it will include a shift from connected vehicles towards fully autonomous ones over the next decade or so. 

Subsequently, artificial intelligence (opens in new tab) and cloud automation (opens in new tab) will increasingly be required to manage the voluminous amounts of data in terms of analysis, data flows, collation, back up and storage; as well as for the management of networks to ensure they don’t grind to a halt.

WAN Acceleration technologies

To prevent Wide Area Network (WANs) from being inhibited by the key culprits of legacy and packet loss, for example, WAN Acceleration technologies can be deployed to reduce jitter and increase the bandwidth utilisation of any existing WAN or SD-WAN infrastructures that a company already has. 

David Trossell, CEO and CTO of Bridgeworks, suggests in his 2019 article for the Government and Public Sector Journal, ‘How much bandwidth do I need?’, that WAN bandwidth “is a little bit like the petrol mileage that motor manufacturers claim on their cars.”

He adds: “It sounds good, but you never seem to get close to that figure you are expecting. In fact, you are more likely to get closer to the petrol mileage figure than you are to your WAN bandwidth.” He also explains that there has been a move away from transactional data to transfers to the WAN, to “one that reflects the bulk data transfers that are associated with offsite data backup and cloud use.”

This situation often leads to a conflict between the network and data teams. One blames the other for poor data throughput. 

Trossell explains that over the years, he’s been involved with many conversations in which the “data guys are moaning about the lack of throughput, while the network guys respond with: “It’s not our problem; you’re not even using all the bandwidth allocated to your WAN – it must be your programme.”

WANs and cloud inhibitions

WANs form an essential part of the cloud, and so there is a need to maximise data throughput and egress over them. Furthermore, whenever data centres are situated far apart from each other – outside of their own circles of disruption to enable service continuity whenever a disaster strikes - latency and packet loss increase, to the point that networks decelerate and suffer from severe jitter. 

This can be resolved by using a solution, such as PORTrockIT, to deploy artificial intelligence, machine learning and data parallelisation to mitigate the effects of latency and packet loss.

Trossell explains: “When organisations transport data over long distances that are typical for WANs, the TCP/IP latency effect rears its ugly head and kills the throughput, while it waits for those all-important acknowledgements (ACKs) from the other end. So, throwing more bandwidth at the problem is not going to fix it.”

“Let me explain with an example: If we have a 1Gb/s WAN with 100ms of latency and we are transferring data in 4MB blocks. We send the block of data and then wait 100ms before we get the ACK back from the receiving end before we send the next block of 4MB. So, in 1 second we can send 10 blocks of 4MB = 40MB/s – not bad, but a 1Gb WAN should be capable of transferring more than 100MB/s That’s only 40% utilisation.”

“So, what happens if we upgrade to 10Gb/s? Does it offer 10 times the performance? That is the perceived wisdom, but don’t forget we still have that 100ms of latency and 4MB blocks. So, we are still only going to transfer 10 x 4MB = 40MB/s. Exactly the same as the 1Gb connection. However, the capability of the 10Gb connection is around 1GB/s, so now we have a utilisation of only 4%!”

Increasing bandwidth utilisation

Organisations are finding transfer speeds to the cloud somewhat restrictive, while costs are spiralling. Bridgeworks therefore claims that it can provide massive data transfer speeds on any type of data, both to and from the cloud, and significantly increase throughput and performance to allow data to move at up to 98% bandwidth utilisation. The company adds: “Everyone recognises that the Cloud offers some major advantages and the potential for operational streamlining is extremely attractive. But for enterprise customers, the same issue comes up time after time.”

The traditional approach to tackling the challenges of latency and packet loss leads to the implementation of either WAN Optimisation or SD-WANs. The former can’t handle encrypted data, and the latter is a great technology. However, it too can be boosted with a WAN Acceleration overlay to mitigate the impact of latency and packet loss.

The imperative to minimise these two elements with WAN Acceleration will become increasingly important over the next few years. This is demonstrated by Gartner’s prediction – which McHugh highlights – that “by 2023, 40% of all enterprise workloads will be deployed in cloud infrastructure and platform services, up from 20% in 2020.”

Data is a critical asset

Referring to Gartner’s findings, he also writes: “The volume of data being created continues to rise exponentially. Data is a critical asset for organisations, providing a foundation for digital services, AI, natural language processing (NLP), deep neural networks and much more. These technologies are also compute-intensive. Organisations are reaching a point where their data storage and computing are unable to keep up with the growth of data and technological advancements.”

In an email newsletter, Christine McKay, Sales Account Executive of InfoTech, writes that if the last two years have taught us anything, “it’s that organisations need their IT departments to survive and thrive in today’s digital economy.” She argues the way has been paved for IT leaders to expand their department’s maturity level, moving towards a more strategic role that enables growth.

Notable predictions

McHugh also notes, in his analysis of Gartner’s predictions, that the main themes coming out of the analyst firms research for 2022 include cloud computing:

“Over the next few years, Gartner expects cloud to continue to evolve as more organisations move towards distributed, hyperscale and hybrid cloud options. This will increase complexity for IT environments, requiring IT to streamline the provisioning of cloud-based resources, as well as configuration management.

  • By 2025, more than 50% of organisations will use a distributed cloud option at the location of their choice, enabling transformational business models.
  • By year-end 2023, 20% of installed edge computing platforms will be delivered and managed by hyperscale cloud providers, compared to less than 1% in 2020.
  • Gartner expects (opens in new tab) over 75% of large enterprises in mature economies will use container management by 2024, due to a growing adoption of cloud-native applications and infrastructure.
  • By 2024, 75% of organisations monitoring IaaS/PaaS environments will consume metrics via cloud providers’ APIs.

With automation, IT and the cloud can become more efficient. Artificial intelligence, machine learning and data parallelisation should, therefore, have a more significant role in improving WAN performance. With WAN Acceleration, organisations can achieve much of their strategic enterprise ambitions with WAN Acceleration. 

This is because the traditional methods – including the implementing of new network infrastructures – are often found to be insufficient, including for cloud automation and management. However, a hybrid approach can be used for SD-WANs, while being boosted by WAN Acceleration.

Graham Jarvis is writing for Bridgeworks (opens in new tab).

Graham A. Jarvis
Graham A. Jarvis

Graham Jarvis is a freelance business and technology journalist. He is widely published in publications such as: IT Pro Portal, Fintech Futures, Information Age, CloudTech, Startups Magazine, Global Banking and Finance Review, TU Automotive, Data Center Dynamics, FSTech, Digitalisation World, and CloudPro. He covers, for example: WAN Acceleration, SD-WANs, WAN Optimisation, Fintech (blockchain, cryptocurrencies, and payments), digital transformation, edge computing, cloud computing, cyber-security, connected and autonomous vehicles (CAVS), datacentres, regulatory compliance, the Internet of Things, marketing, and customer services.

Topics
wan