Achieving WAN acceleration using proprietary protocols vs. pooling multiple TCP streams

* How Comcast Media Center addresses the knotty issue of transferring massive WAN files

Today, we're continuing Jim's discussion with Jamie Batmanglidj, senior systems architect for Comcast Media Center, who described his company's challenge of transferring large files over the WAN. He added that the transfers were taking too long and that the organization needed to add functionality to the WAN so that it could perform similar to a LAN. So how was that done?

During an interview with Jim at  Network World's recent IT Roadmap event in Denver, Batmanglidj said Comcast Media Center deployed a network and application optimization solution. He added that for him: “WAN acceleration is far more than moving the bits faster; it’s also about moving the bits more efficiently.” To date, his organization has looked closely at two different ways to solve the problem of efficiently transferring massive files: implementing proprietary protocols, and pooling multiple TCP streams in order to better utilize a high-speed WAN link.

About six or eight months ago, Comcast Media Center implemented a proprietary protocol approach based on a product from Aspera, which it is using to support between 25% and 30% of its file transfers. Batmanglidj stated that one of the key reasons why Media Center chose this particular product was because many of the media companies it interacts with are using it as well.

In terms of how the solution is working, Batmanglidj said: “It allows us to more efficiently manage bandwidth and is definitely saving time, which is critical. We no longer have to wait 10 to 12 hours to receive a file. This solution allow us to turn files around two to three times faster than is possible with traditional technologies. This is particularly important for things like sporting events, where we need to get the files quickly to be able to offer it as video on demand.”

Batmanglidj said his organization is not finished deploying technology in order to make the WAN behave like a LAN, and said it is beginning to look beyond the traditional seven-layer OSI model. He believes that: “It is important to understand not only that you’re passing data in an accelerated manner but what [the] data is and where it needs to go.”

The next two WAN newsletters will discuss how the Ball Corporation is adding intelligence to its WAN in order to respond to evolving business challenges. In the meantime, we would like to remind you that the next IT Roadmap conference will be in Chicago on April 2. Hopefully many of you will be able to attend.

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