I recently took part in a small executive dinner panel to provide an integrator’s perspective on the topic of application optimization. This event was produced by IDG/CIO magazine and moderated by one of its editors.

CDW hosted the event in partnership with F5 Networks, who also had a subject matter expert on the panel along with a local customer. It was a great evening with about 35 people from the Seattle area attending. I like attending these events, as you get to hear the real-life stories – straight from the trenches – of how IT professionals are dealing with various issues.

Optimization Solutions

The interaction was quite good, with much of it being positive and inquisitive.  We started out with a definition of application optimization. Soon after, we discovered there was a lot of bleed over into network and WAN optimization in both the wired and wireless spaces.

I like to think of application optimization technologies as a solution. Rather than increasing the amount of bandwidth available (a costly and sometimes ineffective solution), these technologies use a variety of innovative techniques to improve the efficiency with which traffic travels along the network.

The goal for an optimization deployment should be to give users low-latency application performance. It should appear as if all resources are on the LAN, even if users are invoking resources across a continent or even spanning the globe.

Implementation Frustration

Soon some of the frustration came out on how hard it was for IT organizations trying to do all they could in regards to time, effort and money being spent on taking care of these needy applications. If only they were written better! But as we all very well knew, rewriting the apps was not in the cards.

One of the other panelists did talk about the solutions that F5 has in the market to help with optimizing and accelerating some of the apps out there. While they seemed to be a good fit for some things, it was quickly concluded that these were not cure-all solutions.

Most of the time, you are not going to be able to rewrite the application, buy all new network equipment or even increase the bandwidth you have, but you can start to understand your applications a little better. Once you can get the basic understanding of its needs figured out, you can take steps to help it by providing a solution that fits it best.

It may be an application optimization device; it could be time to invest in an updated network infrastructure component, a WAN acceleration product or maybe just a new wireless AP. Your network is often the only thing you have control over.

In today’s world, it doesn’t seem to matter where the application lives, it just matters how well it works. So take action when and where you can. However, it might take a bit to understand the application itself in order to optimize it.

As noted by one of my fellow panelists:  “You didn’t create the problem. But you can be the one to fix it. After all, isn’t that what being in IT is all about?”

Find out more about this topic at cdw.com/network