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WANs Shape Up for Storage

Wide area networks (WANs) are increasingly important in storage networks, and a growing roster of products are striking out in new ways to improve how WANs handle backups and disaster recovery.

WAN optimization tools from the likes of Network Executive Software Inc. (NetEx), Peribit Networks Inc., and Swan Labs Corp. have been selling for months now (see WAN Accelerators Speed Up). These products, typically offered as appliances, use compression, special timing algorithms, and other techniques to enable synchronous or asynchronous replication over longer IP connections than ever before.

Now these tools are being taken to a new level. They're getting more closely connected with storage wares. And in at least one case, they're acquiring new application acceleration capabilities.

Swan Labs, for instance, claims customers are seeing two and three times the improvement in WAN performance with software options the company acquired with the purchase of Pivia last year (see Swan Labs Picks Up Pivia). Where Swan Labs provides network-based techniques like compression in its appliances, the Pivia software option, added to the appliance, addresses some of the application-specific traffic characteristics that can slow storage traffic on IP links.

"At the network level, you can compress and cache the data," says Andrew Foss, CEO of Swan Labs. "When you combine that with an understanding of the protocols in use, you can actually provide local acknowledgement and local service for much of the chattiness and serialization of the application itself, so you can get data flowing as quickly as possible."

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