Aug 15 2013

WAN Optimization Helps Feds Cut Costs and Improve Service

Agencies say the technology helps them save money and enhance network and application performance.

The Interior Department has included WAN optimization into the agency’s IT transformation initiative, which seeks to eliminate redundant IT and create a shared services organization.

CIO Bernard Mazer estimates the initiative could produce cost savings of $100 million each year, from 2016 to 2020, for a total savings of $500 million. “We view network optimization as a critical and fundamental component that lays the foundation for successfully consolidating data centers, continuing to adopt cloud services and providing greater mobility for our employees,” he says.

The Interior Department’s managed telecom services provider uses Riverbed Steelhead WAN optimization tools. DOI uses WAN optimization to deploy satellite services to remote field sites that are not well served by traditional wired or cellular networks.

Scattered bureaus and offices maintain their own network connections. Through the network optimization project sponsored by the IT transformation initiative, DOI identified those locations and re-engineered its network access into a consolidated service. Mazer says the project helped the department reduce costs and increase bandwidth by 20 percent. The added bandwidth has had a dramatic impact on users, he says.

“We can now deliver improved network performance for cloud-based email services, the agency’s collaboration systems powered by Google Apps for Government and enhanced video services for meetings and training,” Mazer adds.

Bob Laliberte, a senior analyst for the Enterprise Strategy Group, says DOI took full advantage of a wide range of benefits associated with WAN optimization technology. “By optimizing bandwidth, the agency can now reduce its costs, improve the application delivery capabilities across the satellite network, plus offer enhanced productivity and collaboration solutions to users,” he says.  

Reducing Latency at DOD

Cindy Moran, director of the network services directorate for the Defense Information Systems Agency, says DISA uses WAN optimization tools on the Defense Information Systems Network’s Satellite Communications (SATCOM) gateways. The agency is replacing its old WAN optimization tools with Riverbed appliances, she says.


The percentage of survey respondents who say that the quality of the end-user experience is the leading indicator for evaluating WAN performance

SOURCE: “Five Key Trends in WAN Optimization” (TRAC Research, September 2012)

DISA primarily uses WAN optimization to mitigate SATCOM bandwidth and latency issues caused by the high altitudes of satellite orbits. Moran says the time required for a transmission to traverse a satellite link (more than two-tenths of a second from earth station to earth station) causes a variety of problems on a high-speed terrestrial network that’s waiting for TCP/IP packets to arrive. Quite often, time-outs necessitate retransmissions, and WAN optimization devices can reduce these, Moran explains. 

“Limited bandwidth, especially on satellite links, result in congestion and dropped packets,” Moran adds. “WAN optimization devices compress data transmissions, and/or cache information, thus reducing the amount of data transmitted over the SATCOM link.”


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