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Virtualization, WAN optimization lead tech trends

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CIOL Bureau
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BANGALORE, INDIA: Based on the Goldman Sachs IT Spending survey conducted during end of last year, Robert Healey, marketing evangelist, APAC & Japan, Riverbed, talks about top technology trends for enterprises in general (large and SMBs) in 2009. He also throws light on how Riverbed helps enterprises with these technologies. 

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The key trend for the whole IT industry this year, led by CXO level pressure on the CIOs will be to both “Do More With Less” and “Do More With What You Already Have”. At a macro level, you can say there are three factors behind this trend, namely the Green IT initiative driven by concern for the environment, the macro economic conditions of the world economy and also by technological progress. The Goldman Sachs IT Spending Survey results above illustrate these points clearly. Healey examines the top six technologies:

1. Server Virtualization – This is all about doing more with less. Server Hardware is now powerful and cheap enough to allow multiple operating systems to be run on a single physical device. This has benefits in terms of cost, space, power consumption and network management. However, there is a significant cost associated with backing up such virtualized servers – that any time you wish to back up or restore a virtualized server image, you now need to move many times as much data across the WAN. Naturally WAN Acceleration technology can be of huge benefit here – Riverbed for example can accelerate the backup of VMWare server images by 50 times or more.

2. Storage Virtualization - Virtualizing storage infrastructure brings the same kind of cost, power, space and management benefits enjoyed by virtualized server infrastructure to storage environments. Typical enterprise storage requirements grow by up to 100 percent per year so this is definitely a good thing. As more and more companies, for cost, business continuity or regulatory compliance requirements, move to virtualized storage infrastructure and remote backup facilities, more and more storage-related data needs to be moved across corporate WANs. Riverbed’s WAN acceleration products can bring huge cost-performance benefits to these environments, being able to reduce WAN bandwidth usage by 90 percent or more and drastically reduce WAN based data backup and recovery time.

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3. WAN Optimization – While on the surface this appears to be a simple technology that can help save WAN bandwidth costs, in reality WAN Optimization is a relatively low cost technology that is simple and quick to deploy that can bring about order-of-magnitude performance improvements in enterprise Networks, storage and applications. It is a non-intrusive and unifying technology that allows enterprises to leverage all their existing infrastructure to the fullest and bring about dramatic improvements in employee productivity, while saving costs. Riverbed is the clear leader in this field.

4. Mobile email devices – Allow companies to squeeze as many extra minutes of productivity out of their workers as they possibly can, for very little extra cost. One limitation of these devices however is the fact that in many cases they cannot run rich applications, though as the terminals themselves get better this limitation is disappearing. As this occurs the trend will be towards sending and receiving larger and larger amounts of data to and from these devices – in which case a mobile acceleration client software application like Steelhead Mobile becomes a very attractive proposition, to help save time and networking cost.

5. Desktop Virtualization – Companies like VMWare and others offer desktop virtualization technologies whereby remote users can be sent either their data, their applications (Word, Excel etc) or even the entire Operating System each time they log on to their computer. This model benefits the enterprise by standardizing IT environments, reducing IT support costs and offering enhanced security – but comes at the cost of a potentially huge impact on the WAN as all this data needs to move across it, many many times. Naturally this kind of environment is a perfect fit for Riverbed’s award-winning WAN Acceleration technology.

6. Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) – Refers to the model where enterprise users do not own their own software applications, rather they use applications that are owned and hosted remotely by Application Service Providers. Microsoft with their hosted Sharepoint and Exchange services, and Google with “Google Apps” are of course two very well known examples of this. The benefit of this model to the enterprise is lower upfront cost, arguably lower ongoing IT costs and access from anywhere. However, the key point to note about this model is that ALL the company’s data needs to move across the Internet, to and from the hosting company, each and every time anyone uses it. This has obvious performance ramifications and hence WAN acceleration technology like that from Riverbed, the market leader, becomes very attractive.