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Vista to make WAN optimization a thing of the past?

TechTarget’s networking reporter Andrew R. Hickey wrote an insightful piece on WAN optimization technologies embedded in Microsoft Windows Vista and Longhorn Server and how they could make separate WAN optimization boxes obsolete:

Vista and Longhorn contain redesigned TCP/IP stacks, quality of service (QoS) facilities, file systems, security systems, and WAN-friendly presentation layers for applications…TCP flow control and error recovery have been improved while remaining compatible with other TCP implementations… Microsoft has enhanced management control over QoS, meaning that network administrators might be willing to trust QoS markings from Windows machines. In addition, the native Windows file-system access protocol, CIFS, has been improved and will work with most existing applications without requiring program changes. Also, remote application delivery systems, like Windows Server Terminal Services or Citrix Presentation Server, will probably have their performance enhanced when applications are rewritten to use Vista’s Windows Presentation Foundation component.

Before you go chucking your Riverbed box out the window, though, there are a few caveats:

Vista’s security improvements interfere with some VPN clients, and certain security options could interfere with existing WAN performance or optimization products unless they’re disabled. Data-reduction compression done by external WAN optimization tools may still be very useful in some situations.


Enterprises should use caution and examine how compatible Microsoft’s technologies will be within their networks, according to Gartner.

“Windows Vista and Longhorn offer the promise of improved networking performance and security,” Gartner stated. “However, the scope and scale of the changes present significant security and compatibility risks. Most enterprises will delay large-scale deployments until after application compatibility has been verified, which Gartner expects to take 12 to 18 months. This will give networking components time to mature…. As a result, the benefits of the new Windows communications stack will not be broadly realized before 2009.”

For now, maybe try tossing a TV off the roof instead.

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The Riverbed-sponsored Wide-area Data Services online user community has an interesting discussion thread covering the impact of Vista on WAN optimization, specifically the Riverbed Steelhead and calls out some specific test results. The thread is here