WAN acceleration appliances are a much less expensive way of increasing bandwidth for remote sites than buying beefier transmission lines.

High on Thomas Fenady's priority list at Activision Publishing Inc. has been improving file-transfer speeds for traffic over the WAN. Fenady is senior director of IT at the Santa Monica, CA, video entertainment company, which publishes coveted titles such as Guitar Hero, the game that gives everyone a chance to rock like Jimi Hendrix.

While the main data center is at the company's California headquarters, Activision's IT users are spread across 67 offices on four continents. In Fenady's favorite example of how an international video entertainment firm can pummel its network, the Dublin, Ireland-based testers and designers working on Call of Duty routinely generate approximately 200GB of data each day.

That's because the video game, which lets players fight World War II armies, is published in 16 languages.

"We'd be sending an 8gig file 16 times," explains Fenady. "We were getting 3megs per second on an E3 line, and we were able to tune that to get about 8megs per second." Then Activision joined a growing list of companies using WAN optimization products as a way of improving business continuity and application performance. With Riverbed Technology Inc.'s Steelhead appliance, says Fenady, "we started

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getting about 34megs per second. We were filling up the pipe."

Activision has about 7,000 users (a number that tripled recently after the firm merged with Vivendi Games to form Activision Blizzard). His users "don't see a jump from 8megs to 34megs," says Fenady. "What they see is a game-build transfer that could take eight hours before and now takes 30 minutes."

This was first published in September 2008

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