VSAT internet and WAN connections have made it possible for companies to move beyond their physical restrictions. WANs, once limited to office blocks in business districts, can now reach previously hard-to-connect remote locations like oil rigs, construction sites, gold mines, and even ad-hoc military camps.
There are, however, certain challenges to overcome. While offering the ability for WANs to cross oceans, satellite lines are plagued by high latencies, limited bandwidth and very steep prices. Depending on the protocols used, company services can suffer from intense lagging and file transfers can be rendered nearly impossible. A high latency connection will significantly increase the time it takes to browse, share, and transfer files. Throwing more money on more bandwidth is not a permanent, or even a feasible solution.
The key to reducing latencies is not getting more bandwidth, but rather improving the communications on the application and transport layers. This is achieved by placing WAN Optimization Controller (WOC) units at both ends of the VSAT link. The WAN Optimization Controller intercepts packets and process them through a multi-layered protocol using proxies to accelerate and optimize the traffic.
Below are 5 methods of how WAN Optimization Controllers accelerates, streamlines, and optimizes the flow of traffic on the VSAT link:
- TCP Protocol Optimization
This is the use of protocol knowledge to accelerate user response times. By understanding the intricacies of how specific protocols function, WAN optimization equipment anticipates user requests, and the data is retrieved before the user requests it. This is called pre-fetching data. Application performance can be improved considerably and the negative impact of high latency can be reduced significantly. For applications in which requests are typically serialized such as HTTP and data backup and restore, or for applications originally designed for LANs like, HTTP/HTTPS and SMTP, the performance improvement gained by protocol optimization can be considerable. Protocol optimization signifcantly reduces the negative impact of high latency.
- Application Acceleration Blueprints
The use of application acceleration blueprints optimizes application protocols so that they can operate efficiently across the network. Application acceleration blueprints use methods and techniques such as acknowledging requests locally, request pipelining, pre-fetching data, and combining multiple requests together – this produces substantial acceleration. Application acceleration blueprints also provide intelligence to the de-duplication engine, enabling content-aware de-duplication. This kind of optimization solution commonly include blueprints for HTTP and SSL for enhanced application access across the network.
- Content-Aware Network De-Duplication
This solution distinguishes the protocol used to transfer content as it processes a data stream, rather than just blindly building a history out of stream segments. Content-Aware Network De-Duplication has the ability to strip-off TCP/IP encapsulation as well as application protocol encapsulation like HTTP headers, resulting to the of storing data in the disk that is pure content. This storing of pure and clean data prevents performance drop-offs resulting from non-important metadata filling up the disk.
- Traffic Shaping
Also known as packet shaping, traffic shaping is the practice of regulating network data transfers to assure a certain level of performance and quality of service (QoS). The concept is to first identify the traffic, and then to prioritize or shape the traffic so as to improve the user experience. Mission-critical applications can be prioritized so the bandwidth can be allocated accordingly. For example, if VoIP is the most crucial application, higher priority is allocated to VoIP while other applications such as video streaming, file sharing, and web browsing are given less priority. This control of bandwidth for specific types of applications and network traffic ensures that maximize bandwidth is utilized by the most important applications.
- Traffic Filtering
Traffic filtering is a method used to enhance network security and reduce unwanted usage of bandwidth by filtering the network traffic based on specific criteria. This is very critical for ensuring compliance with corporate policies for internet access, and to eliminate unwanted usage. Traffic filtering can block internet traffic to specific websites or types of websites. It can restrict access to specific IP addresses, and restrict access to bandwidth intensive applications like peer-to-peer file sharing protocol (torrent). Aside from optimizing the VSAT link, traffic filtering can also protect against threats and malware that can affect the network.
When TCP/protocol optimization, application blueprints, content-aware de-duplication, traffic shaping, and traffic filtering are combined, the result is the transformation of the high latency and low bandwidth VSAT connection into a network that resembles a Local Area Network (LAN) in nature. This results in the performance of business application improving by a factor up to 60 times over the satellite connection. This upgrades the line usability and boost business efficiency of the VSAT link without spending money for additional bandwidth.
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