Why WAN optimization should be integrated with branch office routers, Part 1

* Cisco piles on more features in a single piece of equipments

In a recent paper posted at Webtorials, Cisco advocated the integration of WAN optimization features into the router. This brings into focus once again the perennial question of exactly how many features should be incorporated into a single piece of equipment. In fact, longtime readers of this column will remember that about 10 years ago we were discussing whether the DSU/CSU should be integrated with the router.

Consequently, we’re starting a point-counterpoint discussion of whether WAN optimization is best accomplished within the router or by using a separate appliance. To start the discussion this week, Mark Weiner, director of product marketing, Cisco application networking services, addresses the positive side of making this move.

Mark comments: “As WAN optimization is quickly becoming a mainstream technology for the enterprise, it is important to analyze and understand optimal deployment scenarios. While offering the deployment flexibility of both appliance-based and router-integrated solutions, Cisco believes there are economic, security and VoIP benefits to integrating WAN optimization technology within the router – both logically and physically. In the first part of these comments, we will focus on understanding the economic benefits.

“Gartner research and Cisco customer analysis both indicate that over the full deployment lifecycle of a network, the upfront cost of buying equipment is typically the smaller part (20%) of the total cost of ownership, compared with the ongoing operational costs (80%).

“To maximize WAN optimization benefits while minimizing its total cost of ownership, the 80% OpEx issue must be addressed head-on. Based on feedback from customers, Cisco has seen that embedding WAN optimization directly in the router has been proven to reduce OpEx by 70% through less rack space, power and cooling, improved mean time between failures (MTBF), ease of staff training and management, and consolidated support contracts.

“Norcraft Companies, a leader in the kitchen and bath cabinetry industry, has deployed WAN optimization to support their nationwide branch server consolidation initiative. With Cisco Wide Area Application Services (WAAS) deployed, Norcraft Companies saw 68-84% acceleration benefits for Microsoft SQL and print traffic. ‘Cisco’s router-integrated WAN optimization minimizes our OpEx by allowing us to centrally pre-configure WAN optimization with routers and install them at remote offices without sending our limited IT staff onsite,’ says Darin Wipf, Director of IT at Norcraft Companies. ‘Its similar management interface with the router required no new training for my IT staff.’

“In a brief 9-month period of shipping the popular Cisco Integrated Services Routers (ISR) with embedded WAAS WAN optimization, Cisco has helped more than 1,000 organizations of all sizes to achieve additional OpEx savings beyond traditional WAN optimization benefits, and pay for upfront CapEx faster. In fact, more than 60% of all Cisco branch office WAN optimization deployments include WAAS modules for the Cisco ISR.”

In the next newsletter, we will continue with more thoughts from Mark. In the meantime, let us hear from you, and we will share your feedback as well.

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