So You Bought the Ferrari…Do You Have a Garage?



So, last month was the 20th anniversary of an American Classic:  Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. Setting aside iconic nature of both the film and the music, it is also an abject lesson. Yes, you read that right…a lesson.

So let me explain. As you, my fellow cinephile, are no doubt aware, one of the major subplots in the movie is centered around Cameron’s father and his precious Ferrari. In order to pick up Sloan from school without the Principal getting wise, Ferris and Cameron ‘borrow’ the Ferrari. They then spend the day on the town, run into trouble with the car and, ultimately end up destroying it. So why bring up the Ferrari? Because, at the risk of sounding like Ed Rooney, there is an analogy to be made between this and WAN optimization.

Many of us have invested in WAN optimization to improve application performance. Like Ferris and Cameron, we leverage these capabilities to help meet critical needs and to speed things up. But once we leave the ‘garage,’ how can we be sure that the application continues to do what it should. How do we monitor performance and manage the new devices that are added to the infrastructure with this optimization? If we aren’t careful new performance blind spots creep up.

A great research piece, ‘Best Practices to Gain Visibility in WAN-Optimized Environments,’ from Gartner’s Sanjit Ganguli, addresses just this issue. The report points out that ‘…the introduction of these devices into the data center and branch offices makes traditional NPMD from the data center more difficult, or even impossible. WAN optimization controllers (WOCs) break a single TCP connection between the client and server into three independent TCP connections: data center to WOC; WOC to WOC and WOC to branch, thus creating a challenge for traditional NPMD tools.’

In Riverbed’s opinion, the mostly obvious of these challenges is the blind spots that are created. As optimization breaks the TCP connection, optimization tools need to be ‘optimization aware’ in order to give visibility to performance measures like response time and utilization. Once you have that ‘secret sauce,’ you can monitor performance across optimized and non-optimized traffic. This ensures that you can manage the entirety of your network without losing critical information.

As well as providing utilization and accurate response time information, an optimization-aware monitoring solution can also answer such questions such as

  • How well is my optimization performing?
  • Are there other sites that could benefit from optimization?
  • Are my QoS classifications as expected?
  • What’s the end-user experience for

Riverbed SteelCentral, in conjunction with Riverbed SteelHead, helps you to address these challenges. We enable you to see your entire network and application framework, to understand optimization in the context of your entire infrastructure and to identify areas that would benefit from further optimization.

For more information about the Gartner report and Riverbed’s capabilities for monitoring in conjunction with SteelHead WAN optimization, please see ‘Visibility Maximizes WAN Optimization.’


Gartner Best Practices to Gain Visibility in WAN-Optimized Environments, Sanjit Ganguli, Bjarne Munch, 27 July 2015.



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