Plymouth, Minn.-based Ecessa, a vendor of WAN link optimization (read 'network load balancing') technology for small and medium-size enterprises, has recently become aware of a novel usage trend within certain segments its customer base:
A number of companies are deploying the company's PowerLink equipment for the purpose of bonding together multiple low-cost broadband Internet connections in order to gain improved throughput performance in making large file transfers between branch offices.
A typical case in point is Ecessa customer Providence Engineering, which is using PowerLink to bond two separately provisioned T1 connections into a single virtual connection with approximately 3Mbps throughput capacity. Providence requires this level of throughput to handle the task of moving large CAD and other graphical files between locationsas well as backing up such files to a central location, Ecessa spokesman Marc Goodman told Enterprise Networking Planet.
"We're finding that the use of our products for channel bondingover the last year or twohas been growing dramatically," Goodman reported. And the point of departure for most customers, he indicated, is "increasing bandwidth to support larger applications going across the Internetto deliver them quickly."
This obvious benefit of channel bonding is being enjoyed by several different kinds of firms. In addition to engineering and graphic design businesses whose bulky graphical files are hungry for bandwidth, Ecessa has a number of "healthcare customers that are sending MRI files or large X-Ray files," Goodman said. He also mentioned advertising and PR firms, hotel chains, and the banking/financial sector.
However, the benefits go far beyond just access to greater throughput. Ecesssa maintains that using multiple moderate-cost broadband connections in place of single, higher-capacity dedicated links not only dramatically lowers the overall cost of connectivity, it's also inherently more reliable.
With an organization's total site-to-site IP WAN traffic shared among several generic broadband linksas opposed to dedicated (private) T1, DS3, or frame relay connectionscustomers have built-in redundancy. There is no single point of failure, and transmissions can continue even if one connection should go down.
This is especially vital for the healthcare segment. HIIPA regulations require strict securitywhich generally means using a VPN tunnel when moving imaging or other data across the network. PowerLink's bonding capability provides session failover for VPN transmissions. "If one of the WAN links were to fail, they don't even lose VPN session," Goodman explained.
Another factor contributing to the growing uptake of channel bonding, according to Ecessa's vice president of sales, Jason Breyer, is the broader trend of server virtualization and cloud computing.
"That actually drives the need for our functionality more so," Breyer told Enterprise Networking Planet, "because what we're seeing is that small businesses are taking advantage of this virtualization or cloud computing. Their stuff doesn't reside on site.
"Traditional wide-area-networking gets kind spendy, and they're looking for alternative ways to take advantage of these ISP connections that are coming down in price. We allow them to go to a situation where they're doing site-to-site communications through public WAN links," Breyer said.
"With public, ubiquitous Internet connections, you can get better performance and save money, compared with the historic, traditional frame relay networks," he concluded.