Author Profile - DC Palter is the President of Apposite Technologies, a leading vendor of easy-to-use, professional quality WAN emulation products. He previously held positions in marketing and engineering at Mentat/Packeteer (now Blue Coat), Hughes Electronics, Kobe Steel, and Honeywell. Mr. Palter is the author of two textbooks on WAN acceleration and the Osaka dialect of Japanese, and holds patents in network acceleration, satellite networking, and combustion technology. He earned an MBA from UCLA and a BS in Energy Eng. from Northwestern. Mr. Palter can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I was introduced to Mr. Plater by the trusted technologists at YR20 who are experts in world wide WAN and Satellite testing for major oil and oil service companies. The Team at YR20 only uses the best WAN test equipment and that is, in their considered opinion, the Apposite Technologies solution focused products. YR20 uses only the best equipment for testing and commissioning networks because in the Oil and Petrochemical world, lost or poor communications will result not only in loss revenue but possibly dangerous situations and potentially even more disastrous events.
The YR20 Team has recently finished commissioning an off shore service vessel and the satellite links and other WAN communications were well tested to assure that the vessel is never out of communications with its headquarters or the rigs it is servicing. In an upcoming joint article by YR20’s Mike Hinz and Apposite Technologies DC Palter will treat us to a real world review of the problems that were caused by WAN issues and how the Teams found and solved the issues for a major petro chemical service company.
Today we are so focused on the LAN and most have forgotten to even consider that the WAN may play a key part in performance issues. The WAN arena is to be well considered in this time of trying to get more out of the network investment we have. Ignoring the WAN is like having a race car on rethread tires, the car my run great but the retread tires that are connecting the super tuned car (your LAN) to the real world (the WAN) is a very bad idea and a very weak solution!
Reconsider the WAN for two (2) reasons – 1) to make sure that you are getting the bandwidth and services that you are paying for and - 2) Your WAN setting, services …etc may be one of the major causes for slow network responses, loss calls, loss sessions…etc as well as the cause for many other real time application and database focused network issues. I suggest that you give it a thought and you just might find that sneaky response problem and get your entire network tuned to deliver even more than expected.
We are delighted to welcome DC Palter and Apposite Technologies to WWW.Lovemytool’s site and we hope to see more challenging articles on the almost forgotten WAN arena
I hope you enjoy DC’s article and let him and the www.Lovemytool Team know what you want to hear about in future articles.
I wish you Less Stress and More Success - Oldcommguy™
By DC Palter
If you’re an IT manager, you need a WAN emulator in your test toolkit. Here’s why…
Your applications are primarily running on servers at headquarters, but need to be accessed by users dispersed everywhere, from teams in regional and local offices to your sales people on the road, to your telecommuters dialed-in from home, to your retail and production sites around the world.
Application performance will obviously be sensitive to the amount of bandwidth connecting these users to headquarters -- only so much data can be pumped through the pipe. But what may be less obvious is that application throughput and responsiveness can be just as sensitive, if not more so, to link latency, jitter, and packet loss rates.
As a simple but dramatic example, accessing a 10 MB file on the local gigabit LAN takes less than 0.1 second. When the bandwidth is restricted to T3 speeds, the same file access takes 2 seconds. No surprise there, simply a matter of bandwidth. But when someone at an office across the country, even on a completely dedicated T3 line, tries to access the same file, it takes 9 seconds. That’s the effect of 100 ms of latency between the sites. Even worse, if you have employees in Australia, they have to wait 22 seconds. And your teams in China and India using an Internet VPN with 1% packet loss are forced to endure at least 3 minutes to open the same file no matter how much bandwidth they have. Hmmm. Or as my wife says (all too frequently), “Do something about it. NOW.”
Maybe 9 seconds for your in-country people isn’t a problem, or at least not a priority. But what if your customer reps are forced to wait 9 seconds after every data entry for their screens to refresh? Or if the file is larger than 10 MB – a CAD drawing perhaps, or an over-produced marketing presentation that the CEO is trying to download at an investor conference? Then they definitely have a problem, and so do you.
Are there solutions? Certainly. But you first you need to know what to expect so you’ll know what is and what isn’t a problem, and a way to benchmark any potential solutions.
For our simple file access example, you can call your buddy at the regional office in Chicago, or even the one in Singapore, and tell him, “download this file from the shared drive and let me know how long it takes.” But how do you test the responsiveness of your accounting or ERP systems? Or the rollout of a new VoIP system?
This is where a WAN emulator makes its dramatic entrance into your life. I won’t promise that it’ll improve your love life, help your recalcitrant teen see reason, or even reduce the cost of health insurance, but it will make your work life easier so you can focus on these other problems, or at least have more time to spend on the million other projects your boss has committed you to completing before the end of the quarter.
Simply put, a WAN emulator simulates the WAN link so you can test applications in your lab, or even in your own office, and see for yourself how they’ll look to users across town or on the other side of the world.
In its simplest configuration, you plug in a server on one side of the WAN emulator, plug in a client machine on the other, and specify the WAN link bandwidth, latency, and packet loss rate. Packets going into one side of the WAN emulator get pushed, jostled, roughed-up, and mangled inside the box, and come out the other side looking just like they completed an arduous journey across the network. More importantly, the client and server will react exactly as if the packets had actually emerged from the dark cloud of the telecoms network or an internet VPN.
A particularly useful configuration is to plug in a WAN emulator between your own office PC and your office network. In a matter of seconds, you’ll be able to see exactly what your users are seeing without having to leave the comfort of your ergonomic office chair.
So you’re thinking, how much is this little bit of magic going to cost you? Because while a tool like this would be useful, even if it doesn’t help your love life, most of your budget is already spoken for with all the new applications the CEO wants implemented, leaving little money for getting those applications to actually work well.
Fortunately, the answer is that WAN emulators can be surprisingly inexpensive, particularly if you don’t need all the bells and whistles. Of course, pricing depends on the size of the links, and products that simulate T1 lines and DSL cost considerably less than those designed for monster 10 Gig links. But a good quality emulator can be had for less than a couple thousand dollars, and sophisticated ones for links of up to OC-3 speeds for ten grand or less.
So now you want to know, where do you get one of these wonderful boxes? Ah…I thought you’d never ask. A number of companies make WAN emulation products (too many, if you ask me), and you probably won’t be too shocked to find out that my company is just such a vendor. Our Linktropy WAN emulators simulate links from 300 bits per second (though if you’re trying to do anything on a 300 baud link, a WAN emulator is the least of your problems) up to 10 Gbps. We’ve designed the Linktropy products specifically for busy people without much budget – making it as easy to use as possible so you can begin testing immediately without any training, while remaining a trustworthy test tool that you can rely. And with our prices, you can’t afford not to have one.
When you get a chance, take a look at the Linktropy products on our website at www.apposite-tech.com.