Are WAN optimization techniques in backup products reliable?

Many backup software products now include WAN optimization techniques, but will users be quick to give up hardware-based WAN optimization?

Backup software products that incorporate wide-area network (WAN) optimization techniques provide continuous data protection on networks of varying quality to ensure backups are fast and invisible to end users. A typical WAN optimization engine uses bandwidth optimally by analyzing available networks and optimizing the data transfer process. Typical activities include querying the network for noise and latency to determine if the connection is a LAN or WAN, choosing the optimal packet size and creating multiple threads to optimize the available bandwidth.

Backup software also provides administrator controls such as:

  • Bandwidth allocation management
  • Caps on bandwidth based on specific user backup profiles
  • Designation of a minimum amount of bandwidth for backups before permitting backups to occur
  • The ability to block data transfers over cellular data networks (3G and 4G)

Interrupted backups can be resumed automatically, using techniques such as running a cache that stores details of the last running backup or restore, and automatically detecting a new connection and resuming the process. WAN optimization techniques are especially important as users opt for real-time data mirroring and replication, which further increases bandwidth demands.

Network managers and engineers who have invested in WAN optimization techniques may be aware of the developments in backup software. However, considering the investments their companies have made in optimization technology, they are not likely to pull out their software or appliances without a compelling business case. Also, considering that network managers and engineers are not likely to discuss disaster recovery options with others in the IT department, they might not even be aware of such options. A careful analysis of network operations and performance must be made before making any changes to network technology. While the software option may sound interesting, in the face of legacy WAN optimization equipment, there will not be any kind of serious migration in the next two years at a minimum.

Next Steps

Vendors' WAN optimization techniques: Which is best for you?

The effects of a software-defined WAN architecture platform

WAN optimization controllers important for disaster recovery, cloud access

Dig Deeper on Backup and recovery software