The Evolution of Network Acceleration Technology

Computer networks have existed for over 50 years. According to the Computer History Museum, the first commercial modem, AT&T’s Dataphone, was introduced in 1960. This product converted digital computer data into analog signals that could be transmitted across AT&T’s long distance network. Soon thereafter, third party developers incorporated AT&T’s technologies into their own products. The development of equalization techniques and bandwidth-conserving modulation systems improved transmission efficiency in national and global systems.(1)What is Network / WAN Acceleration?Today’s networks carry an unprecedented amount of multimedia data and are under extreme pressure to do so with ease and finesse. For example, users expect to be able to view high resolution videos instantly; they upload and share documents and files on a regular basis using both the corporate WAN as well as remote connections and mobile devices; they use the Internet to hold video and voice chats. Workers rely on cloud-based software, storage systems, and even desktops. Today’s end-users need reliable, high performance networks more than ever.Network, or WAN, acceleration involves optimizing networks for performance as well as optimizing applications running over long distance networks. Common forms of network acceleration involve using what’s known as a WAN accelerator. WAN accelerators are network appliances (either hardware, software, or virtual) that use application proxies, compression and data deduplication techniques, together with generalized TCP optimization technology to optimize the flow of data transmitted across the WAN. Rather than sending duplicated objects and packets, WAN accelerators cache the duplicates and reference them.How Network Acceleration is EvolvingNetwork acceleration technology has evolved over time. Additional functions have been added to WAN Optimization controllers that add network protocol optimization to the mix. For example, Common Internet File System (CIFS) and HTTP can be optimized, reducing unnecessary “chatter” and speeding transmission.Application delivery controllers are often used to optimize the server-side experience. These network accelerators use static caching, load balancing, and other techniques to manage network traffic spikes.What’s Next in Network Acceleration?It looks as though network acceleration is continuing its evolution. The future is here! For example, according to a recent blog post by Aryaka, the company just introduced a new, hardware-free, cloud-based network acceleration service. The company’s hardware-free network acceleration service essentially renders existing equipment useless. In the blog post, Aryaka’s Sonal Puri has this to say, “We are telling the enterprises to throw away everything into the garbage bin. It is a waste of money and efforts. You do not need all that. You do not need the MPLS, you do not need the CDN, nor the Accelerators. No hardware is needed on your premises and in your branches, really nothing.”(2)Aryaka has quickly made a name for itself in the network as a service and WAN Optimization as a service arenas. Yet, Puri laments that many network administrators are unaware of the fact that an alternative to MPLS and WAN Optimization appliances exists. Networking acceleration technology as a service represents an about-face for many network administrators. The technology has evolved, and it doesn’t rely on hardware.Sources Cited:1. Computer History Museum, Timeline of Computer History, Aryaka, A New Cloud-based Service to Accelerate Network Performance without any Hardware,