Bandwidth Confessionals

By Wimpie van Rensburg, Systems Engineer, Riverbed Technology
Have you ever upgraded your bandwidth, even though you knew it wasn’t going to solve your latency problems?
If you said yes, it’s okay. Everybody has done it and it’s nothing to be ashamed of. Your intentions were good, and besides, it gave you a reprieve from all those user complaints. But then, after awhile, they started again, didn’t they?
And now you are right back where you started from, thinking about going back to bandwidth. Do you really think things will be different this time? Sure, there will be the honeymoon period, but eventually you will be right back where you started, broken promises and shattered dreams. I’m begging you, don’t do it, don’t go back to bandwidth!
As much as you want it to, bandwidth will not solve your problems. I know it’s comfortable, it’s safe, everybody knows bandwidth, but it’s not right for you. Is bandwidth going to address all those TCP applications whose chatty behavior is causing your end users to waste valuable time waiting for apps to load or files to transfer? And do you honestly believe bandwidth will ever be able to address the latency problem? I don’t care how big your pipe is, those applications still need to go back and forth across the WAN and having more space will only make their trip more comfortable, not faster.
Imagine you have to transport 100 of your employees from HQ to a remote office that is 3,000 miles away. You want to get all of them there as quickly as possible. You have two travel options:
1) A Volkswagen bug and a four-lane high way, or…
2) A Greyhound bus and a single lane highway.
Option 2 right? It’s a no-brainer. The situation is no different with your WAN. Upgrading bandwidth is like choosing option 1 and implementing a WAN optimisation solution is like choosing option 2.
What about cost you say? The chart below shows the calculations done by the law firm Allen Matkins. They found that “the cost of deploying the Riverbed Steelhead solution would be 70% less expensive than the cost of implementing a bandwidth upgrade. Annual operating costs for the Riverbed Steelhead solution are a staggering 88% less expensive than the bandwidth upgrade.

Cost comparison