Identify and then test

* Advice given at the recent network and application optimization seminar

In the last two newsletters we discussed some of the key topics that were highlighted by the sponsors of the recently completed network and application optimization seminar tour that was produced by Network World and moderated by Jim Metzler. In this newsletter we are going to highlight some of the advice that Jim gave to the seminar attendees.

Jim’s first piece of advice to the seminar attendees was that if they were going to be successful with choosing a network and application optimization solution that they need to identify the problem that they were trying to solve. Jim’s point is that there isn't an all encompassing network and application optimization solution currently available in the market. For example, some solutions have a rather narrow focus and the vendors of these solutions often present their solutions as the best of breed for that particular focus. This could be a viable solution for a company if that company was sure that the problem they need to solve was narrow in focus and was likely to stay that way.

While a number of vendors offer solutions that support a wide range of functionality, these solutions typically have different strengths and IT organizations need to be aware of those strengths and choose a solution accordingly. For example, one solution might be the best in the industry at controlling the type of chatty traffic that often results from consolidating servers out of branch offices and into one or more centralized data centers. Another solution might be the best in the industry at implementing QoS or some other functionality such as protocol acceleration. A third solution might only do an adequate job at supporting network and application optimization techniques in general. However, this solution might have focused on a particular application, such as SharePoint, and do an excellent job of accelerating that application. If SharePoint is critical to how a company does business, this solution could be viable.

Jim’s next piece of advice to the seminar attendees was that they should spend their time at the seminar listening to the sponsors and trying to get an idea of which solutions seem to be the most closely aligned to the problem that they were trying to solve. In lieu of listening to vendors at a seminar, readers can obtain information directly from the vendor’s Web sites or from and use this information to identify viable solutions.

Jim’s final piece of advice was that the only way the seminar attendees could truly understand how these solutions would work in their environment was to test the solutions in that environment. In particular, Jim pointed out that collateral such as third party tests of a solution are helpful in that they provide some insight into how the product will work. However, using compression as an example, traffic such as text compresses well while encrypted traffic does not. The only way to tell if a solution will do a good job of compressing your particular mix of traffic is to try the solution in your environment.

In the next newsletter we will review some of the most common questions that were asked by the seminar attendees. If the topic of network and application optimization interests you, you should note that Jim will be moderating a similar Network World seminar on Nov. 30 in San Francisco. If you are in the area you are invited to attend and continue this important conversation.


Copyright © 2006 IDG Communications, Inc.

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