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Unravelling the IP VPN Dilemma

The booming WAN services market is proving to be bad news for Frame Relay. According to In-Stats recent report, "High Growth and Lots of Opportunity," Frame Relay service revenue will steadily decline between 2005 and 2008. One leading reason for this decrease is the uptake of IP Virtual Private Networks (IP VPNs), which account for the lion’s share of the predicted $20 billion to $25 billion wide-area network (WAN) services market.

While the popularity of IP VPNs for increasing WAN bandwidth is most certainly tied to the significant cost savings over traditional dedicated lines, there is a growing awareness of the technology’s downside. While IP VPNs provide an order of magnitude more bandwidth for less cost, they frequently have significantly higher latency, packet loss, and jitter than do dedicated lines, which often results in less actual throughput and reliability.

With native IP VPN connections, there is a minimal amount of traffic engineering available, creating a “first come, first served” environment on the WAN. This creates an erratic WAN experience, with little control or ability to accelerate or prioritize traffic. So, while a customer can get 10 Mbit/s of bandwidth using an IP VPN for the same price as a 1.5 Mbit/s connection via a dedicated line, the actual gain in usable throughput can be minimal.

As companies seek cost-effective ways to handle and support enterprise applications, portals, business continuity, disaster recovery, data replication, and voice over IP (VOIP), WAN performance issues represent serious challenges.

Enter WAN optimization and application acceleration technologies.

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