Mar 21 2014

Agencies Plan to Optimize Networks to Meet Mobile Demands

IT managers say mobility will play an important role in future bandwidth management strategies.

When it comes to bandwidth management, mobile users are top of mind for the Agriculture Department.

Phillip Rendina, director of infrastructure operations in the International Technology Services division of the Office of the CIO, says the USDA installed Riverbed Steelhead Mobile software on the notebooks and workstations of mobile office workers and teleworkers.

The Steelhead Mobile software provides the agency with many of the same benefits as the Riverbed hardware appliances and also optimizes the agency’s VPN connections. “Riverbed is working on versions of the software that will run on portable devices such as smartphones and tablets, and this is directly on our development roadmap,” Rendina says.

Bandwidth Conservation Efforts

Overall, the Steelhead solution has enabled USDA to conserve bandwidth. For example, during one week in February, WAN optimization devices sent 46.2 terabytes of traffic to users while sending only 27.8TB across the WAN. The result was an overall bandwidth reduction of 39 percent, Rendina says.


The percentage of IT managers who say WAN optimization is a priority

SOURCE: “The Evolving State of the Network” (Enterprise Strategy Group, December 2013)

“While actual response times are harder to measure in real time, the technology functions primarily by spooling repeated and known traffic off of local disks instead of transmitting it across the WAN,” Rendina explains. Traffic that doesn’t cross the WAN isn’t subject to transmit delays, thus improving the user experience.

Bob Laliberte, senior analyst for the Enterprise Strategy Group, says more IT organizations must factor in mobility as they move forward with their bandwidth management strategies.

“As workplaces become more mobile, IT managers will be asking many of the same questions as before, such as ‘How can we optimize the network and reduce operational costs?’” Laliberte says. “Only during this era, we will also have to look at applications people are running on their smartphones and tablets.”

Taming Traffic with More Efficient Networks

Todd Simpson, associate CIO for the Transportation Department, says DOT plans to start on its network strategy by examining every circuit on the network and looking for ways to consolidate.

Simpson says once that’s done, his team will look at more efficient traffic management strategies, including WAN optimization to eliminate latency and network errors, as well as to provide a more proactive management of network resources.

DOT also plans to scrutinize the impact of mobility on network traffic. “Mobility is a significant emerging factor driving our optimization approach, especially as we get closer to deploying VoIP softphones and video teleconferencing to our mobile users,” Simpson says. “We have yet to settle on a specific toolset, but plan to do so this fiscal year.”

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