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Justification Exercise

5:45 PM -- How do you cost-justify a massive, multisite deployment of WAN optimization and wide-area file services (WAFS)?

Use your lab and look to the end-user benefit, says one international hospitality company, which insists on remaining unnamed. As an IT director for the firm states: "We are doing a lengthy evaluation of network acceleration and optimization to answer questions like 'When do I deploy?' 'What applications can we accelerate?' The higher the latency of the connection, the bigger the benefit."

The plan calls for 500 sites worldwide to be equipped with WAN optimization/WAFS products -- in this particular case -- from Expand Networks. The IT director notes that thanks to some arcane but internally meaningful feature distinctions, Expand won out over Riverbed in an RFP. "We have some potential requirements for file and print functions that are not there with Riverbed," she says.

To determine where the Expand Compass appliances should be installed in their IP network, the hospitality company's IT group is using a simulation application called the Shunra Virtual Enterprise (Shunra VE). Expand has provided Shunra with enough information to mimic the performance of accelerated links in simulated networks. The IT group calculates existing performance on IP links, then applies the simulated effects of Expand's appliance. The software is being offered as part of a joint-marketing program by both vendors.

The vendors' solution doesn't matter as much as the customer's method of cost-justifying the upgrade. Using a bit of ingenuity and an in-house lab, the hospitality team is calculating the would-be improvement in the response time that will justify the cost of the acceleration gear. "We have to show that this will ultimately improve the end-user experience," says the IT manager. "There has to be a benefit other than bandwidth improvement."

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