WAN Optimisation and DSL

Ian Yates interviews Con Nikolouzakis from Exinda Networks, who reveals why DSL is the enemy of speedy WANs.

YESTERDAY: WANs are like motorbikes

Next we spoke with Con Nikolouzakis from Exinda Networks.

Ian Yates: Con we're having a revisitation of wide area network optimisation, an area which I believe your company has some expertise, because maybe the message hasn't gotten out there. I've been getting a lot of feedback from small business users. They're not quite sure that they think it's worth the money but I'm getting yourselves and other vendors saying it definitely is. Can you run through some of the reasons that really would make a difference to your link?

Con Nikolouzakis: Yeah look I think you're right there Ian and we're seeing a similar thing where the market hasn't quite adopted it in what we'd call a mainstream year we've seen a lot of the earlier doctors going in and it's you know I think a lot of it's got to do with education. A lot of our customers in the market generally has got some bright people in it it's just that vendors like Exinda need to spend more time and I think the publications have to spend more time educating the market and people talk about it's just easier to upgrade the bandwidth but what you'll actually see and the trends starting to happen already is by upgrading your bandwidth you're actually not providing the optimal solution and in many cases not solving your problem. We find that it's going to become a competitive disadvantage for your organisation if it doesn't go down this path.

Ian Yates: I had it put to me that even if you upgrade the bandwidth to serious speeds you're still contending with a fixed amount of latency in the DSLAM anyway so you're not going to beat that.

Con Nikolouzakis: Yeah and you know latency in the DSLAM is one thing but the core of the problem is when people who get 100 megabits per second and they say well my LAN is 100 megabits per second at least right and it goes much beyond that. They would purchase 100 megs on their LAN and then they purchase 100 megs on their WAN and they actually expect it to perform the same and that's not the case because throughput is actually bandwidth times your latency and your latency on the LAN is generally under a millisecond.

Ian Yates: Yeah.

Con Nikolouzakis: The latency on a WAN can be 30 milliseconds or 100 or even greater so there's already a factor of 30 to 100 X on throughput.

Ian Yates: So they're not going to beat that just by buying more bandwidth.

Con Nikolouzakis: You're not going to beat that and latency is unfortunately bound by the speed of light so.

Ian Yates: Yeah. Oh come on we can work on that, we can work on that. You guys have got some clever techs.

Con Nikolouzakis: Yeah well we can't beat the law of physics.

Ian Yates: Warp speed networks yeah?

Con Nikolouzakis: Yeah.

Ian Yates: And also of course it's not just that latency is it? It's the incredibly chatty nature of the protocols we use.

Con Nikolouzakis: It is there's a lot of components. It's higher layer chattiness of applications, it's latency, it's misconfigurations on network and that's why application disabilities is a key component. A lot of our customers do a whole lot of optimisation before they even turn acceleration on and that's because they can see what's going on and fix the misconfigurations or the misuse of the network. So it's about how do you not only have the right capacity in your network but how do you make the infrastructure run more efficiently because the pressure on the network manager today is how does he do more with his own infrastructure...

Ian Yates: Yeah, yeah. You can't just write a cheque anymore no.

Con Nikolouzakis: Yeah make your systems efficient. You know we're seeing networks running at 20 per cent efficiency and we're saying you know you're spending $10,000 a month on your WAN and you're only getting $2000 worth of...

Ian Yates: Throughput.

Con Nikolouzakis: Throughput yeah.

Ian Yates: Okay. Well that would certainly annoy me if it was me paying the bills you would be paying excuse me Mr Networker you're not getting any more money until you soak up those dollars I've given you.

Con Nikolouzakis: Absolutely and you know you can do that. You can realise that there's benefits.

Ian Yates: And I also understand that this equipment, these black boxes although they obviously do optimise, they also tell you stuff about your network traffic you never knew before and as you had a very expensive analyser gadget it could be worth the price of entry just to find out what's going on.

Con Nikolouzakis: Yeah well we're finding that a lot of our sales are driven just by the visibility component because that's the start of any migration or any discovery exercise you need to know what's going on and unfortunately out in the real enterprise most network managers don't have the tools to be able to make informed decisions. We do offer a very simple solution. You can drop it in your network and it's all preconfigured and we'll start emailing you colourful PDF reports on whatever the applications, whatever users, whatever different latencies around your network.

Ian Yates: Right and then you can slap them in a PowerPoint and add to the bandwidth problem I suppose.

Con Nikolouzakis: Well not really, yeah.

Ian Yates: But yes I suppose that would be the sort of thing they need isn't it? They can take that hard evidence and they can take that to the dudes who write the cheques and they can wave the paper and say look here's the problem.

Con Nikolouzakis: Well I'll tell you a great case study. We had a large home building organisation who came to us and they're a user of our product and the IT manager called me up not long ago and said hey Con I just want to thank you. You know you saved my job and I said well how did I do that? He said well I had my manager running in here and saying hey you know what's going on with the network? We've got our customers in Brisbane and our users in Perth complaining and the network's just gone worse and worse and he was able to pull up some reports and say well you know we over the last six months have added more users and more applications to our network. He was able to show the trend of how the capacity was being used and he said look it's not the IT department's fault it's just that we've got a lack of capacity.

Ian Yates: Yeah.

Con Nikolouzakis: He was able to actually get more budget for his network.

Ian Yates: Okay and prove that he knew what he was talking about.

Con Nikolouzakis: Yeah whereas I've been on the other side of the fence where people haven't got our solution and that same manager's knocking on their door and saying well okay look I'm going to go to the firewall and print up some logs and I'm going to do a bump on the server and see if I can find anything and it's just all too hard.

Ian Yates: Yeah and that sort of stuff isn't going to give you the answer anyway is it? Unless you've been doing time based tracking and comparative tracking you won't get there by looking at the log.

Con Nikolouzakis: Well the only way you could do it and you know this is the other way we use is that you could log into every server and every desktop on your network and put in some sniffing clients and just constantly monitor them but if you've got 50, 100, 1000, or 10,000 devices on your network...

Ian Yates: Good luck.

Con Nikolouzakis: Yeah good luck.

Ian Yates: Well it's also the case I suppose a lot of this WAN Optimisation equipment if you stick it in someone's place on a trial basis do they send it back and say thanks or do they just write you a cheque?

Con Nikolouzakis: Yeah well you know that's how we run most of our free evaluations. They're generally proof of concepts and if we try and take them back they generally say well we'll try and cut your arms off if we touch it.

Ian Yates: Yeah so here's the money yeah.

Con Nikolouzakis: You're right that's generally how we sell and that's how a lot of people are selling solutions in our space because it's a relatively new space it's pretty much a proof of concept you know. I hear what you guys are saying it sounds great...

Ian Yates: But yeah.

Con Nikolouzakis: The versions look good but prove it.

Ian Yates: Where's the magic? Yeah.

Con Nikolouzakis: That's it.

Ian Yates: So I suppose we can look forward to one day in the future where either this sort of idea will be built in to every router anyway or you won't think about it. When you're putting in a network you'll get one of these black boxes.

Con Nikolouzakis: Yeah you'll get one of these black boxes or your service provider will give it to you.

Ian Yates: Right.

Con Nikolouzakis: At the moment networks are pretty dumb. They're TCPIP by default. They're just treating every packet equally so you know we're looking at what we're calling application fluent networks.

Ian Yates: Oh right.

Con Nikolouzakis: Networks that understand applications and not just understand bits and bytes.

Ian Yates: Okay.

Con Nikolouzakis: So it's a layout that sits between your applications and your network which translates application knowledge into your WAN.

Ian Yates: Oh right that is a different way at looking at it.


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