WAN optimization: How a file transfer software solution can complement your WAN appliance

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When we launched the new blog using WordPress, one of the long-term goals was to eventually migrate some of our articles from the old blog to this new home. One subject that comes up from time to time is the decision between a WAN appliance and a file transfer solution. Many organizations approach this as a “one or the other”, which it need not be; they can coexist and ultimately serve different purposes. Other times, the feeling is that if there is already some sort of “data acceleration” in place, that a file transfer solution would be redundant. Not necessarily so! Well, no point re-writing an already excellent article; here it is as originally written:

Over the past few years,I have encountered a lot of companies that already do WAN optimization and do not see a need to implement additional software for accelerating file transfer. The fact is, WAN optimization is great depending on what you are trying to accomplish; however, there are cases where the only requirement is file transfer. WAN optimization on its own does an OK job. But if you want real performance, combining a software solution with your WAN optimization appliance can sometimes yield staggering results.

At a recent trade show we spoke with a company called Expand Networks about areas where we could complement what they do, and vise versa. They explained that they not only do acceleration, but also advanced differencing and compression at the block level. This reduces the amount of data across the network, and does a pretty good job of accelerating it. When used in conjunction with an FTP client, this can greatly improve file transfer speeds, and even surpass line speed.

We decided it would be worth getting our hands on a couple of Expand boxes and see what happens when we run FileCatalyst in conjunction with them. What we found was that for pure file transfer we were able to get at least double the throughput of the Expand box alone, and much more when we increased the network latency and packet loss. There was a point where the TCP acceleration did not do as good a job as FileCatalyst with regards to keeping the link full of data.

Because FileCatalyst uses UDP and can increase/decrease transmission rate depending on congestion it was able to detect the reduced traffic across the WAN appliances (due to its optimization techniques) and continue to increase the speed until the link was filled. FileCatalyst also compressed large blocks of data before transmission. Expand was then able to compress each packet even further using its advanced block level compression. When the file is modified slightly, and sent a second time, FileCatalyst will send the differences at the byte level. Expand then does the same at the block level resulting in a further reduction in data. The end result is that optimizations take place at the byte level and at the block level, and FileCatalyst’s immunity to high RTT and packet loss allowed this optimized data to flow at maximum possible speed.

On a network monitoring device the actual data across the line was optimal, that is on a T1 with RTT of 350ms and 1% packet loss, roughly 1500 Kbps of data was being sent. But the actual throughput was much higher depending on the type of data, and how many times it was sent across. In some cases 10 times higher than line speed. However in all cases, the speed was faster using FileCatalyst and the WAN appliance, than just the WAN appliance on its own.

In addition to the speed gains, the FileCatalyst software suite offers a host of application level features that just aren’t there when using other 3rd party file transfer applications with a WAN appliance. Features like scheduling, auto-reconnection and resume, on the fly compression, deltas, and bandwidth scheduling. Of course no other file transfer software does a better job of maximizing actual data throughput than FileCatalyst.

For any company that already has a WAN optimization appliance, and wishes to add automation, reliability and further accelerate and optimize file transfers, they should strongly consider a software solution such as FileCatalyst.

To read more about accelerating file transfer with the FileCatalyst family of products visit www.filecatalyst.com

Chris Bailey is co-founder and CEO of Unlimi-Tech Software Inc., makers of software solutions that are reinventing file transfer in the enterprise.
Written by Chris Bailey on July 29, 2007 7:19 PM

One Response

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    I agree with your advice. I do IT for a number of small companies and have had to come up with file transfer solutions. I decided the best way is to combine a file transfer software with the company’s WAN appliance. This proved to be the fastest and most reliable way to transfer large amounts of files and was the most efficient solution. Thanks for educating us with your blog post, I enjoyed many of your posts.