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Special Report:

Data storage and wide-area networks in 2009

Storage spending patterns show disaster recovery (DR) is becoming the key driver for using wide-area networks (WANs).

As this trend develops, the range of available WAN product functions and features expands, and storage professionals will evaluate specialized products for application acceleration, TCP optimization and IT consolidation with data center storage.

This four-part Special Report outlines the changing relationship between storage and the WAN, and offers practical tips for evaluating and considering WAN purchase decisions. A Special Report podcast with Taneja Group analyst Jeff Boles provides insight into today's WAN market and the choices facing storage professionals in 2009, while a WAN shopping checklist tells storage pros what to look for when making new purchases.

Table of contents
Disaster recovery driving WAN for storage
WAN optimization product roundup
Storage podcast: Storage and the WAN with Jeff Boles
WAN shopping checklist

Disaster recovery driving WAN for storage

The focus on the wide-area network's (WAN) role in storage appears to be shifting from providing wide-area file services (WAFS) for remote offices to enabling disaster recovery.

Storage spending surveys indicate WAN purchases have been dropping in recent years However, when organizations do invest in storage for the WAN, it usually involves a disaster recovery component as companies increasingly set up secondary sites to recover data in case of failures.

"More people are leveraging WAN optimization for DR, especially smaller to midsized companies," said Bob Laliberte, an analyst at Milford, Mass.-based Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG). "They're creating their own secondary DR sites. Two things helping to drive disaster recovery are VMware and WAN optimization. VMware can reduce the number of physical servers and infrastructure at the second site, and WAN optimization can help reduce network costs."

→ Editor's Tip: Read this article to learn more about WAN purchases for disaster recovery purposes.

WAN optimization product roundup

Determining the differences between WAN optimization products for storage and those for remote-office data protection can be confusing. Products in both categories aim to reduce the amount of data sent over the wire from branch offices to a main data center.

Industry analysts say a good way to separate WAN optimization products from those that simply reduce data over the wire is to consider how WAN optimization products impact TCP/IP performance. Data reduction in WAN optimization products can take the form of sub-file-level data deduplication like that performed by backup storage appliances, or compression achieved by cutting down on the "chattiness" of the TCP/IP protocol itself. Storage analysts are seeing increasing differentiation and specialization within this space.

→ Editor's Tip: Read this article for a complete WAN product roundup.

Storage podcast: Storage and the WAN with Jeff Boles

Jeff Boles, senior analyst and director, validation services at Hopkinton, Mass.-based Taneja Group, discusses the increasing specialization among products in the market for storage and the WAN, how users can determine which products are best for remote-office data protection, and the future of WAN and storage.

→ Editor's Tip: Listen to this Special Report podcast with Jeff Boles.

WAN shopping checklist

Before getting sidetracked by throughput, look out for some of the potential pitfalls of buying a WAN optimization product that you haven't tested thoroughly.

As your WAN traffic grows, how scalable is the optimization appliance? How costly and difficult is it to scale? How many protocols does the appliance handle? How does the vendor secure its appliance? Does your WAN optimizer need to accelerate Secure Sockets Layer (SSL)-encrypted traffic?

→ Editor's Tip: Read about WAN features and functions here.

02 Apr 2009