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WAN Optimization the Open Source Way

Jan 25, 2010, 16:33 (0 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Charlie Schluting)

"WAN optimization is a complex and expensive, yet sometimes required investment. Even if you aren't running a branch office in Africa over ISDN, the need for WAN optimization and acceleration exists within nearly every business. The problem is that these products are extremely expensive. Wouldn't it be great if the same functionality could be accomplished with commodity PC hardware and free open source tools?

"Mostly, it can be done.

"What Can't Be Done

"Riverbed and other vendors implement Wide Area File Services (WAFS), which is a fancy way to say it caches CIFS and NFS data. If multiple people are working on the same file, or if the same file gets opened and closed more than once, that data does not really need to be shipped to the remote file server. It's even fancier than that; long-term caching of files also makes opening Word documents, which require a lot of bi-directional communication just to open, much faster. WAFS implements a (generally) safe mechanism for caching data when sending it over the WAN would be redundant. General caching proxies are not optimized for file sharing data, and will often have to send the whole thing, whereas the WAFS-style devices can be much more clever about it."

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