Editor’s Note: As we mentioned in a recent article, there’s often some confusion when it comes to how WAN optimization fits into the overall network optimization industry — especially when compared to Internet optimization. Although similar, the two techniques require different approaches to optimization. What follows are some simple questions to ask your vendor before you purchase a WAN optimization appliance. For the record, the NetEqualizer is primarily used for Internet optimization.
When presenting a WAN optimization ROI argument, your vendor rep will clearly make a compelling case for savings. The ROI case will be made by amortizing the cost of equipment against your contracted rate from your provider. You can and should trust these basic raw numbers. However, there is more to evaluating a WAN optimization (packet shaping) appliance than comparing equipment cost against bandwidth savings. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
- The amortization schedule should also make reasonable assumptions about future costs for T1, DS3, and OC3 links. Most contracted rates have been dropping in many metro areas and it is reasonable to assume that bandwidth costs will perhaps be 50-percent less two to three years out.
- If you do increase bandwidth, the licensing costs for the traffic shaping equipment can increase substantially. You may also find yourself in a situation where you need to do a forklift upgrade as you outrun your current hardware.
- Recurring licensing costs are often mandatory to keep your equipment current. Without upgrading your license, your deep packet inspection (layer 7 shaping filters) will become obsolete.
- Ongoing labor costs to tune and re-tune your WAN optimization appliance can often costs thousands per week.
- The good news is that optimization companies will normally allow you to try an appliance before you buy. Make sure you take the time to manage the equipment with your own internal techs or IT consultant to get an idea of how it will fit into your network. The honeymoon with new equipment (supported by a well trained pre-sales team) can be short lived. After the free pre-sale support has expired, you will be on your own.
There are certainly times when WAN optimization makes sense, yet it many cases, what appears to be a no-brainer decision at first will begin to be called into question as costs mount down the line. Hopefully these five contributing factors will paint a clearer picture of what to expect.
Created by APconnections, the NetEqualizer is a plug-and-play bandwidth control and WAN/Internet optimization appliance that is flexible and scalable. When the network is congested, NetEqualizer’s unique “behavior shaping” technology dynamically and automatically gives priority to latency sensitive applications, such as VoIP and email. Click here for a full price list.