Top Tips To Quantify The Cost Of WAN Optimization


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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Ongoing labor costs to tune and re-tune your WAN optimization appliance can often costs thousands per week.
  5. 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.

The True Price of Bandwidth Monitoring


By Art Reisman

Art Reisman CTO www.netequalizer.com

For most IT administrators, bandwidth monitoring of some sort is an essential part of keeping track of, as well as justifying, network expenses. Without visibility into a network load, an administrator’s job would degrade into a quagmire of random guesswork. Or would it?

The traditional way of  looking at monitoring your Internet has two parts: the fixed cost of the monitoring tool used to identify traffic, and the labor associated with devising a remedy. In an ironic inverse correlation, we assert that costs increase with the complexity of the monitoring tool. Obviously, the more detailed the reporting tool, the more expensive its initial price tag. The kicker comes with part two. The more expensive the tool, the more  detail  it will provide, and the more time an administrator is likely to spend adjusting and mucking, looking for optimal performance.

But, is it a fair to assume higher labor costs with  more advanced monitoring and information?

Well, obviously it would not make sense to pay more for an advanced tool if there was no intention of doing anything with the detailed information it provides. Why have the reporting tool in the first place if the only output was to stare at reports and do nothing? Typically, the more information an admin has about a network, the more inclined he might be to spend time making adjustments.

On a similar note, an oversight often made with labor costs is the belief  that when  the work needed to adjust the network comes to fruition, the associated adjustments can remain statically in place. However, in reality, network traffic changes constantly, and thus the tuning so meticulously performed on Monday may be obsolete by Friday.

Does this mean that the overall productivity of using a bandwidth tool is a loss? Not at all. Bandwidth monitoring and network mucking can certainly result in a cost-effective solution. But, where is the tipping point? When does a monitoring solution create more costs than it saves?

A review of recent history reveals that technologies with a path similar to bandwidth monitoring have become commodities and shunned the overhead of most human intervention.  For example, computer operators disappeared off the face of the earth with the invention of cheaper computing in the late 1980’s.  The function of a computer operator did not disappear completely, it just got automated and rolled into the computer itself. The point is, anytime the cost of a resource is falling, the attention and costs used to manage it should be revisited.

An effective compromise with many of our customers is that they are stepping down from expensive complex reporting tools to a simpler approach. Instead of trying to determine every type of traffic on a network by type, time of day, etc., an admin can spot trouble by simply checking overall usage numbers once a week or so. With a basic bandwidth control solution in place (such as a NetEqualizer), the acute problems of a network locking up will go away, leaving what we would call only “chronic” problems, which may need to be addressed eventually, but do not require immediate action.

For example, with a simple reporting tool you can plot network usage by user.  Such a report, although limited in detail, will often reveal a very distinct bell curve of usage behavior. Most users will be near the mean, and then there are perhaps one or two percent of users that will be well above the mean. You don’t need a fancy tool to see what they are doing; abuse becomes obvious just looking at the usage (a simple report).

However, there is also the personal control factor, which often does not follow clear lines of ROI (return on investment).

What we have experienced when proposing a more hands-off model to network management is that a customer’s comfort depends on their bias for needing to know, which is an unquantifiable personal preference. Even in a world where bandwidth is free, it is still human nature to want to know specifically what bandwidth is being used for, with detailed information regarding the type of traffic. There is nothing wrong with this desire, but we wonder how strong it might be if the savings obtained from using simpler monitoring tools were converted into a trip to Hawaii.

In our next article, we’ll put some real world numbers to the test for actual break downs, so stay tuned. In the mean time, here are some other articles on bandwidth monitoring that we recommend. And, don’t forget to take our poll.

List of monitoring tools compiled by Stanford

Planetmy
Linux Tips
How to set up a monitor for free

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.

ROI calculator for Bandwidth Controllers


Is your commercial Internet link getting full ? Are you evaluating whether to increase the size of your existing internet pipe and trying to do a cost trade off on investing in an optimization solution? If you answered yes to either of these questions then you’ll find the rest of this post useful.

To get started, we assume you are somewhat familiar with the NetEqualizer’s automated fairness and behavior based shaping.

To learn more about NetEqualizer behavior based shaping  we suggest our  NetEqualizer FAQ.

Below are the criteria we used for our cost analysis.

1) It was based on feedback from numerous customers (different verticals) over the previous six years.

2) In keeping with our policies we used average and not best case scenarios of savings.
3) Our Scenario is applicable to any private business or public operator that administers a shared Internet Link with 50 or more users

4) For our example  we will assume a 10 megabit trunk at a cost of $1500 per month.

ROI savings #1 Extending the number of users you can support.

NetEqualizer Equalizing and fairness typically extends the number of users that can share a trunk by making better use of the available bandwidth in a time period. Bandwidth can be stretched from 10 to 30 percent:

savings $150 to $450 per month

ROI savings #2 Reducing support calls caused by peak period brownouts.

We conservatively assume a brownout once a month caused by general network overload. With a transient brownout scenario you will likely spend debug time  trying to find the root cause. For example, a bad DNS server could the problem, or your upstream provider may have an issue. A brownout  may be caused by simple congestion .   Assuming you dispatch staff time to trouble shoot a congestion problem once a month and at an overhead  from 1 to 3 hours. Savings would be $300 per month in staff hours.

ROI savings #3 No recurring costs with your NetEqualizer.

Since the NetEqualizer uses behavior based shaping your license is essentially good for the life of the unit. Layer 7 based protocol shapers must be updated at least once a year.  Savings $100 to $500 per month

The total

The cost of a NetEqualizer unit for a 10 meg circuit runs around $3000, the low estimate for savings per month is around $500 per month.

In our scenario the ROI is very conservatively 6 months.

Note: Commercial Internet links supported by NetEqualizer include T1,E1,DS3,OC3,T3, Fiber, 1 gig and more

Related Articles

The True Cost of Bandwidth Monitoring


By Art Reisman

Art Reisman CTO www.netequalizer.com

For most IT administrators, bandwidth monitoring of some sort is an essential part of keeping track of, as well as justifying, network expenses. Without visibility into a network load, an administrator’s job would degrade into a quagmire of random guesswork. Or would it?

The traditional way of  looking at monitoring your Internet has two parts: the fixed cost of the monitoring tool used to identify traffic, and the labor associated with devising a remedy. In an ironic inverse correlation, we assert that costs increase with the complexity of the monitoring tool. Obviously, the more detailed the reporting tool, the more expensive its initial price tag. The kicker comes with part two. The more expensive the tool, the more  detail  it will provide, and the more time an administrator is likely to spend adjusting and mucking, looking for optimal performance.

But, is it a fair to assume higher labor costs with  more advanced monitoring and information?

Well, obviously it would not make sense to pay more for an advanced tool if there was no intention of doing anything with the detailed information it provides. Why have the reporting tool in the first place if the only output was to stare at reports and do nothing? Typically, the more information an admin has about a network, the more inclined he might be to spend time making adjustments.

On a similar note, an oversight often made with labor costs is the belief  that when  the work needed to adjust the network comes to fruition, the associated adjustments can remain statically in place. However, in reality, network traffic changes constantly, and thus the tuning so meticulously performed on Monday may be obsolete by Friday.

Does this mean that the overall productivity of using a bandwidth tool is a loss? Not at all. Bandwidth monitoring and network mucking can certainly result in a cost-effective solution. But, where is the tipping point? When does a monitoring solution create more costs than it saves?

A review of recent history reveals that technologies with a path similar to bandwidth monitoring have become commodities and shunned the overhead of most human intervention.  For example, computer operators disappeared off the face of the earth with the invention of cheaper computing in the late 1980’s.  The function of a computer operator did not disappear completely, it just got automated and rolled into the computer itself. The point is, anytime the cost of a resource is falling, the attention and costs used to manage it should be revisited.

An effective compromise with many of our customers is that they are stepping down from expensive complex reporting tools to a simpler approach. Instead of trying to determine every type of traffic on a network by type, time of day, etc., an admin can spot trouble by simply checking overall usage numbers once a week or so. With a basic bandwidth control solution in place (such as a NetEqualizer), the acute problems of a network locking up will go away, leaving what we would call only “chronic” problems, which may need to be addressed eventually, but do not require immediate action.

For example, with a simple reporting tool you can plot network usage by user.  Such a report, although limited in detail, will often reveal a very distinct bell curve of usage behavior. Most users will be near the mean, and then there are perhaps one or two percent of users that will be well above the mean. You don’t need a fancy tool to see what they are doing; abuse becomes obvious just looking at the usage (a simple report).

However, there is also the personal control factor, which often does not follow clear lines of ROI (return on investment).

What we have experienced when proposing a more hands-off model to network management is that a customer’s comfort depends on their bias for needing to know, which is an unquantifiable personal preference. Even in a world where bandwidth is free, it is still human nature to want to know specifically what bandwidth is being used for, with detailed information regarding the type of traffic. There is nothing wrong with this desire, but we wonder how strong it might be if the savings obtained from using simpler monitoring tools were converted into a trip to Hawaii.

In our next article, we’ll put some real world numbers to the test for actual break downs, so stay tuned. In the mean time, here are some other articles on bandwidth monitoring that we recommend. And, don’t forget to take our poll.

Planetmy
Linux Tips
How to set up a monitor for free

NetEqualizer a Great ROI Purchase for Reducing T1, E1, DS3 Costs


If you are looking to cut costs with the recent downturn in the economy, now would be a good time re-visit the issue of bandwidth optimization. How can it be cost justified ?

First, ask yourself if you’re maxing out your Internet connection. If the answer is yes, then you should look at optimizing tools before purchasing more bandwidth.  However, some are quite expensive and hard to swallow, making it difficult to justify the expense. But, NetEqualizer offers a very competitive fixed price solution with no recurring costs.

There are two basic cost-savings factors with the NetEqualizer:

1) Greatly reduced IT labor — For most business, the largest single line item cost is human labor.  And one of the hardest labor costs to quantify is your IT.  Your IT staff may seem to somehow make themselves essential to every issue, no matter how hard you try to automate things.

On the issue of complaints that “the Network is slow,” if you were to sit back and conservatively look at tech time spent fiddling with routers or your expensive layer-7 based packet shaper, you’d probably notice that quite a bit of time is spent making adjustments and tweaking equipment on a weekly or daily business, only to repeat the fire drill the next time the network grinds to a halt.

Why is this?

Nine times out of ten,  the core problem is too much congestion, and to compound matters,  the  acute  source of the congestion changes. It is the transient nature of the cause that tends to drive up your labor costs. Yes you can find and head off problems with your router or deep packet inspection device, but you have to re-visit this issue each time the congestion source changes. Great for keeping techs busy, but bad for costs.

The big advantage with the NetEqualizer over the layer-7 shapers, or using a reporting tool and manually chasing issues on your router, is that the NetEqualizer proactively finds and eliminates network congestion before it blows up in your face, becoming an IT fire drill. Over and over again we hear from customers that they have deployed the NetEqualizer with our default setup,  plugged it in, and left it alone.

So, if you’re looking to save money in this downturn, have your IT support do something that helps generate revenue, like forward-facing customer support, and let the NetEqualizer put out the fires before they spread.

2) Stretching your existing  bandwidth to accommodate more users — Essentially, this allows you to indefinitely stave off signing a new bandwidth contract.

NetEqualizer can stretch the life of your current Internet trunk. Internet congestion is similar to the problem power companies face. They must have enough capacity on their grid to meet peak demands even though they may rarely need it. The same holds true for your Ineternet contract. You must purchase a contract with ample bandwidth to meet your peak loads.  But, as you may realize, much of your peaks are transient and they are also related to quite a bit of non-business traffic. The NetEqualizer is effective because it can spread your non-essential traffic out over time, smoothing out your peaks.

For more information on the NetEqualizer, including a live demo and price list, visit www.netequalizer.com.

%d bloggers like this: