Three Signs Your SSL/TLS Traffic Needs Optimization

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A recent Forrester report found that 60% of technology and business decision-makers planned to prioritize improving their digital employee experiences (DEX) to attract and retain talent and promote employee engagement. This statistic aligns with Riverbed’s 2023 Global DEX Survey research, which found that 91% of respondents reported plans to provide more advanced digital experiences in the next five years, especially to meet the demands of younger, “digital native” employees. This brings us to a crucial aspect of providing a great digital experience: access to applications.

With today’s distributed, hybrid workforces, ensuring reliable access to applications is business-critical for most organizations. When application performance is poor, it can negatively impact employee productivity, leading to revenue loss and a decline in customer satisfaction and brand reputation. Few, however, consSSL/TLS optimizationider that their unoptimized wide area network (WAN) traffic secured by Secure Socket Layer (SSL) or Transport Layer Security (TLS) protocols may be to blame for poor application performance and other issues in their network.

WAN acceleration—the technologies and methods used to improve the efficiency of data transfers between centralized data centers and remote locations—is the same regardless of whether the traffic uses SSL/TLS protocols for encryption. Many organizations, however, miss the classic signs that their secured WAN traffic needs optimization. To help organizations start the process of WAN acceleration for their SSL/TLS-encrypted traffic, we’ve gathered three signs that your traffic needs optimization.

Sign #1: High network latency

Network latency is the time it takes a data packet to travel from one place in the network to another. Ideally, this would happen at the speed of light, but in the real world, cabling, network equipment traversal, and signal loss hampers transfer speed.

For example, an increase in the number of “hops,” or devices that a packet must travel through, and poor application server performance can cause high latency.

Here are a few signs of high latency:

  • Websites load slowly or not at all.
  • Applications freeze or stall.
  • Interruptions in video and audio streaming.

Ideally, your organization should track latency metrics for all your applications across the network. However, this can be difficult. For example, most organizations in 2022 had an average of 130 software as a service (SaaS) applications in use. For most teams, manually tracking latency for 130 applications isn’t possible.

If left unchecked, high latency can hamper employee productivity, making it difficult to collaborate across departments and teams and ultimately impacting job satisfaction and company revenue.

Sign #2: Network Congestion

Network congestion occurs when the transmitted data exceeds the network’s processing capacity. It’s similar to cars in traffic. When the amount of traffic, or data, doesn’t have enough lanes for travel, or transmission, it backs up.

Congestion can slow data transfer and cause packet loss, and there can be many causes behind network congestion. Common causes include overactive devices and applications that use too much bandwidth, poor network configuration, and outdated devices and switches.

If the congestion continues unchecked, it can result in downtime when the network and its applications are unavailable to users. Downtime is expensive, with estimates landing at approximately $5,600 per minute.

Besides unplanned downtime, signs of network congestion include:

  • Increased error rates across the network.
  • Slow data transfer speeds.
  • Frequent application crashes.

Sign #3: Growing data usage and needs

Organizations are using more data. From artificial intelligence (AI) tools to growing data usage in analytics, monitoring, and cybersecurity, it is inescapable. In fact, 46% of organizations in a worldwide survey said they use big data analytics in research.

Earlier, we compared network traffic to traffic we experience on the road: Imagine what would happen if you dramatically increased the number of cars on your four-lane highway. Most companies are investing in big data—larger, more complex data sources—without considering how the increase in data will affect their network traffic.

Considering WAN optimization prior to, or early on, in the process of growing data usage can equip your network to handle the increase in traffic without causing issues.

How to optimize your WAN traffic

Many organizations see the signs and still struggle to optimize their SSL/TLS encrypted traffic. Optimizing WAN traffic encrypted with these protocols requires network teams to decrypt, optimize, and re-encrypt the traffic to ensure it remains secure. The process requires them to collect and manage certificates and private keys. With companies managing hundreds of applications, each with specific certificates, private keys, and expiration dates, the process can be challenging. Because of the challenge, many organizations won’t attempt optimization, or they’ll begin the process but not complete it.SSL/TLS optimization

Riverbed offers WAN acceleration for SSL/TLS encrypted traffic that simplifies the process. Companies can choose from multiple deployment options that streamline certificate management with a solution that acts as a trusted man-in-the-middle to optimize traffic securely. The results? Organizations can see up to a 99% reduction in bandwidth consumption and a 10-times acceleration of SSL/TLS encrypted traffic.

Want to learn more about Riverbed’s acceleration solution with SSL/TLS optimization? Download the white paper.

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