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Firms face disaster over WAN bottlenecks

Most firms have wide area links too small for their DR needs.

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Two-thirds of large enterprises don't have enough bandwidth to replicate or backup their remote sites in an emergency, according to a survey of IT managers and directors.

IT managers simply don't have enough bandwidth to meet the demands of their disaster recovery plans, and most of them will find a big chunk of their sites isolated in a disaster, according to the report, produced by Forrester Consulting, and commissioned by F5 Networks. But the answer may not be more bandwidth - users can make better use of the bandwidth they have, instead of adding more in a bid to catch up with impossible demands.

"Only 16 percent of North American respondents and 15 percent of European respondents report that 80 percent or more of their remote sites are protected with centralised data replication or remote backup technologies," the report says. "This means that enterprises are either relying on local backups and offsite tape vaulting for disaster recovery, or there is no disaster recovery solution in place at all. Either situation is not good for enterprises."

The report advises - perhaps not too surprisingly, given that it was sponsored by a WAN acceleration vendor - that instead of simply buying more bandwidth, companies should consider WAN acceleration technology. It adds that, on average, European IT bosses are less aware of this technology and its potential than are their North American counterparts.

The risk, according to F5 Networks, is that untreated WAN bottlenecks may push organisations into cutting back either the number of applications they protect, or the number of sites.

"Our concern is that companies are settling for stripped-down disaster recovery systems when they don't need to," commented Ameet Dhillon, F5's product management director. "Disaster recovery efforts can be made many times more efficient by using WAN optimisation devices like our WANJet, and at a fraction of the cost these companies are spending on bandwidth."

The Forrester authors conclude: "When evaluating WAN acceleration appliances, focus on the vendors that have made the time and investment to test the interoperability of their appliance with independent software vendors, storage vendors, and storage networking vendors. Also look for case studies and/or customer references that prove its capabilities and intended benefits."


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