Wide area network optimization may rank only 15th in terms of CIO priorities but it offers critical benefits, Alan Saldich, VP of product marketing and alliances for Riverbed Technology said Monday.
Saldich was one of several presenters who spoke at CIO Boot Camp, the first day of sessions to kick off the Interop New York IT conference and exhibition. His company sells a range of WAN optimization appliances and data services.
Although Goldman Sachs' December 2007 survey of CIOs found that WAN optimization didn't make the top 10 concerns among CIOs, it's key to the changing landscape of today's business world, Saldich said.
"Organizations are struggling to find the balance between providing branch offices with an effective IT infrastructure and reducing the operational and IT costs associated with supporting these needs," he said. "Our goal at Interop is to educate attendees on the Riverbed solution as enterprises look to develop a more efficient and collaborative work environment for employees in globally dispersed offices."
Saldich said that companies need flexibility, simplicity, continuity, and security. An architectural firm that lands a project in Shanghai must be able to move under-utilized employees from the United States to China, he said. Once there, those employees should be able to work as easily as if they were next door. Saldich said it helps if companies keep their data in fewer places, like their headquarters, but they should be able to move data from anywhere to anywhere.
In the last several years, companies have moved disaster recovery sites farther away. For example most companies based in New York City used to maintain recovery sites across the Hudson River in New Jersey. Today, they maintain centers as far away as Tennessee and Ohio, Saldich pointed out. Those companies should be able to recover their data as quickly as they have backed it up.
"Our goal is to make three-thousand miles feel like thirty feet," he said. "Our goal is to make somebody working in Frankfurt feel like they're in the next room."
Riverbed competes with Cisco and Juniper but its WAN optimization boxes are not interoperable with Cisco hardware. However, the company has a Cisco-powered network, as do many if its customers.
Riverbed's WAN data services can help CIOs save money, improve services, increase flexibility, simplify operations of remote branch offices, centralize servers and storage and improve continuity, Saldich said.
Windows file sharing can be 50 to 100 times faster with optimization products, he said, while Oracle SQL can be several times faster but without the dramatic improvement seen with file-sharing applications.
The U.S. Department of Defense saves $720,000 annually since turning to Riverbed for optimizations. The Department reduced its number of servers from 625 to 200 with VMware and Internet applications.
"Users don't notice and don't care," he said.
Riverbed is based in San Francisco. The company supplies about 4,500 enterprise customers. It employs 900 people and reports about $300 million in annual revenue.