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In the world of financial services, time is money.  Financial professionals require real-time information delivery for fast accurate decisions, whether it’s the latest research reports or up to the minute news.  Virtualisation helps financial services save money and time.  With virtualisation, businesses realise very real rewards, such as increased efficiency and cost savings, letting them locate workloads wherever they are needed within the IT infrastructure.  With virtual WAN optimisation, workloads run as efficiently and as effectively between offices as they do within the office without having to purchase more wide area network (WAN) capacity or upgrading servers.

Virtualisation challenges

Virtualisation has the ability to transform the financial services industry.  The density of server consolidation can be radically increased when virtualising physical servers. This allows financial institutions to reduce the operational and capital costs associated with new bank branch or any remote office. Virtualisation also transforms the branch. By using software to recreate the functions of physical hardware, it reduces costs associated with physical appliances and provides added flexibility.

Dave Greenfield

Dave Greenfield

However, for an agile business, such as a bank, it is vital that the user experience remains consistent, which can be difficult if servers in the data centre are separated from the branches by an bandwidth latency caused by distance, and poor network quality caused by packet loss.  The relationship between the two is complicated, with some having a greater impact than others in any given network environment.  Adding more bandwidth, for example, will not always make a difference to projects over long distances where latency is a major factor. Similarly, all the bandwidth in the world will not matter if packets are being dropped or delivered out of order as a result of congestion.

Wanting WANop

Without a stable network, financial institution will not be able to effectively use virtualisation to reduce strain on the data centre infrastructure and provide its numerous business benefit. It is therefore vital that financial organisations create an optimal network environment, not least because failing to do so will only result in rising costs and a compromised investment.   To do this, organisations need to optimise the WAN, which can reduce over 90 percent of the traffic across the network and provide the scalability needed to support all current and emerging applications.

As virtualisation becomes a growing priority, we are seeing the data centre steadily evolve, with virtual software increasingly replacing physical appliances. Virtual WAN optimisation is essential for the migration of large volumes of data as it not only saves on hardware, shipping and deployment costs, but it ensures that the data is easily and rapidly available. With virtual WAN optimisation, businesses have the power and flexibility to build their data centre networks to withstand unexpected traffic congestion, reduce the bandwidth-consuming effects of redundant data, overcome latency challenges for long-distance users, and easily build-in “bursting” capabilities to address anticipated spikes in application usage. To do this, both network challenges need to be addressed to optimise performance across a WAN, which will help guarantee a successful investment.  This can be achieved with three real-time optimisation techniques.

Latency mitigation using various protocol acceleration techniques overcome the impact of distance, Forward error correction (FEC) and packet-order correction (POC) overcome packet delivery issues in real-time, while quality of service (QoS) enables businesses to prioritise key traffic and ensure it gets allocated necessary resources. Finally, deduplication and compression maximise bandwidth utilisation. A big benefit is that the investment made to improve virtual initiatives can be amortised across other enterprise applications.

Finally, virtualisation can often change a company’s threat profile at a time when businesses are under increasing pressure to secure critical communications and data transfers.  As a result, not only will security policies need to be updated and evolved to accommodate these changes, but any WAN optimisation solution will need to address this so that data is accelerated in transit securely between data centres, remote offices and the cloud.

Ultimately, a fully equipped network will enable financial companies to more easily meet their business objectives, while allowing them to take full advantage of their virtual investment.  With virtualisation so often associated with forward thinking and business innovation, it is imperative that an agile business ensures that they have the most reliable infrastructure in place to drive this, particularly banks, which have always been seen as early adopters of technology. Fail to do this, however, and the virtual investment will either underperform or fail entirely – a risk that today’s high-speed financial organisations cannot afford if they wish to stay one step ahead of their competitors.

By Dave Greenfield, product marketing manager, Silver Peak

About the author:

Dave has spent more than 20 years as an award-winning journalist and independent technology consultant. Today, he serves as a product marketing manager at Silver Peak. He has previously served as editor and blogger at a number of publications tracking WAN optimisation and virtualisation.

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