Prices for WAN optimization products vary depending on network size and the number of sites. A good starting point is approximately $50,000 for a major location such as your data center, and $15,000 to $20,000 for branch sites (pricing for remote locations vary).

Brian Babineau, senior analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group, Milford, MA, predicts that WAN optimization products will be priority budget items for IT shops this year and next. The cost of buying more bandwidth, at a time when IT shops are under increasing pressure to restrict expenses, makes WAN acceleration products easy to rationalize, he explains.

"We've talked to a lot of people who have purchased WAN optimization solutions and we haven't had one of them say 'Hey, this stuff didn't work out for us,''' says Babineau. "That's pretty unusual. A quick ROI is what counts right now."

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Glossary of routing, network and security terms
As with most IT product categories, WAN optimization has its own set of terms. Here are some key ones that you should be familiar with as you evaluate WAN optimization devices:
  • T3 and E3 telecommunications services: T3 service provides transmission at a rate of 44.736Mb/sec, while E3, the European equivalent, is rated at 34.386Mb/sec.

  • Policy-based Routing (PBR): A technique used to redirect traffic to WAN appliances using Access Control Lists (ACLs) set by the user.

  • Secure Sockets Layer (SSL): A cryptographic protocol that provides security for data transfers.

  • TCP flows: The Transmission Control Protocol provides in-order delivery of a stream of bytes.

  • Web Cache Communications Protocol (WCCP): A Cisco-developed, content-routing protocol that can redirect traffic flows and perform load balancing, scaling and fault tolerance. The protocol can also localize Web traffic patterns in the network, which enables content requests to be fulfilled locally and reduces transmission costs.

This was first published in September 2008

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