The purpose of WAN optimization technology is to get as much data as possible over a link.
WAN optimization vendor Silver Peak this week launched its latest effort to maximize data links with the NX-10000 (10K) appliance. The NX-10K has four 10 GbE interfaces and promises at least 2.5 Gbps of WAN throughput. Overall the NX-10K can handle up to 256,000 simultaneous sessions.
With four, 10 GbE interfaces the NX-10K can ingest a lot of data and that's a key part of ensuring maximum WAN optimization.
"What we're specifying is the size of the WAN link we can optimize," Damon Ennis, VP of product management at Silver Peak told InternetNews.com. "The actual throughput might actually be higher depending on how much data de-duplication and compression we're able to do."
Ennis explained that Silver Peak specifies its boxes based on WAN bandwidth rather than LAN capacity, since users know the size of the WAN link they have.
"Customers do know the size of the link they have today, so they know if they have a DS-3 or a 1 GbE Metro Ethernet connection and they want to know which product they should use," Ennis said.
From a math perspective, in order to optimize a 2.5 Gbps WAN link and a 4 x data reduction/compression is possible, the appliance needs to be able to ingest 10 GbE on the LAN side.
"So you need at least 10 Gbps going in and 2.5 Gbps going out," Ennis said. "Then we essentially double them up so people can do high-availability scenarios.
In terms of applications that the NX-10K targets for WAN optimization, Ennis noted that Silver Peak has built their appliance for Layer 3 optimization, meaning they can optimize anything over IP. It's common in the WAN optimization marketplace for vendors to specifically call out certain applications to be optimized on a particular appliance.
"We built the product assuming application needs would be evolving over time and we'd never be able to predict what they are" Ennis said. "So we came at the problem by saying it's important to optimize everything."
That said, Ennis noted that Silver Peak does have specific protocol optimizations for CIFS as well as SSL.
Actually determining how much optimization an appliance will provide in a real production environment is data set dependent. Ennis noted that on file copy actions compression can be as high as 20x or more.
"So if we get a data set that is 4x compressible, you'll get 10 Gbps on the LAN side and 2.5 Gbps on the WAN side," Ennis said. "Of course, there may be data sets that are more compressible than that, and there may be data sets that are less compressible."
Another area of differentiation for Silver Peak is around application visibility. There is an class of hardware applications in the market today designed to provide application visibility features. In Silver Peak's case they're trying to integrate that capability directly into the NX-10K.
"Visibility is one of our key advantages, we do deep packet inspection at layer 7 in order to provide application visibility," Ennis said. "Enterprises need to know what applications are running so they can understand how their network is performing."
Sitting at the core of the NX-10K is a Linux operating system on the appliance.
"Like most vendors that have focused on the appliance business there is a Linux component," Ennis said. "Linux provides the basic management capabilities of the appliance but all of the data path optimizations are done by Silver Peak's software."