Remember when Internet access at work was used primarily for email and web surfing? Back then, Internet access was a novelty, perhaps even a luxury. Workers who had it felt privileged. Some companies went so far as to block Internet access in an attempt to keep employees from wasting time. Times have changed.
Today, Internet access is essential to virtually every employee across the board. Applications are now hosted "in the cloud" as are corporate documents, shared files, and training videos. For example, rather than installing word processing software locally on each computer, many companies subscribe to cloud-based software such as Google Apps or Microsoft Office 365 Online. At the same time, online collaboration tools make it possible for teams scattered across the globe to share files, brainstorm ideas, and interact with one another in real time or threaded discussion boards. Videoconferencing is now a reality as well.
While all of these innovations have made Internet access a boon to productivity, they also gobble up bandwidth. In addition to all of the business-related innovations, workers routinely bring their mobile devices and smartphones to work with them and connect to the corporate WAN. They may stream music to their phones over Wi-Fi while they work or download videos to keep them entertained. This personal use also puts a burden on bandwidth that didn't exist before.
Where T1 and Frame Relay might have been sufficient for branch offices a few years ago, today's ever-connected branch office requires much more bandwidth than it did in the past. MPLS has been widely used, but it is expensive and it has its limits. In the battle between MPLS and WAN optimization as a service, the cloud-based service approach is coming out on top.
According to Aryaka, a provider of WAN optimization as a service, WAN optimization as a service has numerous advantages over MPLS including:
- Predictable application performance - MPLS tends to suffer when long distances are involved. As such, application performance is affected. WAN optimization as a service provides stable, predictable performance around the globe. It also accelerates access to cloud-based solutions and software-as-a-service, resulting in high performance, reliable access to hosted solutions.
- Faster deployments and lower costs - MPLS can take weeks to deploy, sometimes months. WAN optimization as a service can be deployed in mere minutes. In addition, MPLS can cost hundreds, sometimes thousands, of dollars per Mbps per month. WAN optimization as a service with its private core network is much more affordable, and delivers enterprise-grade reliability and performance.
- Flexibility based on your bandwidth needs at any given time - With MPLS, adding capacity is a major undertaking requiring coordination with local service providers. With WAN optimization as a service additional bandwidth can be provided as needed, allowing you to get through congestion with ease.
Branch offices require a lot more connectivity than they did just a few years ago. Internet access is no longer a luxury nor is it necessarily a drain on productivity; it has become an essential productivity tool. WAN optimization as a service has emerged as a cost-effective solution that brings numerous benefits.