WAN Optimization and aaNPM: So Much Better Together
WAN optimization solutions such as Riverbed SteelHead have the potential to save your company money and drastically improve worker productivity. By reducing the amount of traffic traversing your expensive MPLS links you can downsize the link—sometimes significantly. By improving latency and making applications respond faster you can improve worked productivity—sometimes by significant amounts. Now that you have seen the benefits of WAN optimization and are planning to deploy it across your environment, have you thought about how you will report, monitor, and troubleshoot your newly optimized environment? According to a recent Gartner report on Best Practices to Gain Visibility in WAN-Optimized Environments, “Adding WAN optimization solutions into the network can introduce blind spots in traditional network and application performance monitoring.”
The answer is with an application-aware network performance monitoring (NPM) solution. NPM software, such as Riverbed SteelCentral NetProfiler or NetExpress, provides answers to all your monitoring, reporting, and troubleshooting needs with WAN optimization and has the added benefit of providing in-depth, network-based troubleshooting as well. Whether you are trying to quantify the benefit gained from reducing bandwidth, identify what applications are the most logical to optimize, or determine which location would make the most sense to deploy at next, NPM solutions can help you with that.
When monitoring your SteelHead WAN optimization, SteelCentral NPM provides a closely integrated solution that allows you to leverage the SteelFlow information generated by the SteelHead as well as flow information from other sources (such as, routers, switches, firewalls, etc.). The wealth of information included in SteelFlow record includes flow optimization state, Layer 7 application information, retransmit counts, flag information, Round Trip Time (RTT) information, server delay, and a wealth of other details. This information is coalesced into the NetProfiler advanced flow records with all other sources of information from other devices providing you with a single source of truth for what is happening not only with your WAN optimization solution but across your network.
With the information stored in NetProfiler you can use the built-in reports showing you the optimization rate achieved at a single site, between two sites, or across the entire optimized network.
Figure 1. NetProfiler WAN Optimization Report: total traffic volume
Figure 2. NetProfiler WAN Optimization Report: traffic reduction by application with performance data
You can look at the applications and ports and protocols traversing your remote routers and identify applications that are ripe for optimization.
Figure 3. Traffic report for a remote site showing the highest bandwidth applications not being optimized
You can troubleshoot performance and other network related issues both with the optimization solution and across the network.
Figure 4. Traffic report showing troubleshooting information per interface for a conversation
And you can set alerts to trigger if the number of connections for a specific SteelHead device starts to approach the maximum supported value—indicating it may be time to upgrade that SteelHead.
And finally you can create widgets on the NetProfiler dashboard to show information like the WAN and LAN interface utilization for different SteelHeads to see how much traffic is being optimized.
Figure 5. NetProfiler dashboard widget showing WAN and LAN traffic
Saving money and increasing productivity by deploying WAN optimization is good but being able to quantify those savings, identify productivity gains, and troubleshoot problems across your network is great. Leveraging an NPM solution such as SteelCentral NetProfiler allows you to do all of that and more.