WAN acceleration boost for tourism and travel firms

Traffic management pays dividends for local companies

Two local companies, House of Travel and tourism operator Real Journeys, have recently installed WAN acceleration appliances.

In House of Travel’s case being able to download a virtual test version helped Citrix’s NetScaler web application delivery appliance win selection, when the company was looking at WAN acceleration appliances last year.

House of Travel’s CIO Dave Veronese says, “the interesting thing about NetScaler was the virtual appliance, which could be studied through downloading”.

That allowed the House of Travel IT department to test its own systems for vulnerabilities and identify performance gains.

The other vendors House of Travel looked at, which included F5 Networks, Juniper Networks, Fortigate and Blue Coat systems, didn’t offer that service, Veronese claims.

After looking at the virtual version of Citrix’s offering, the full version was selected and went live in mid-2009.

Since then, its use within the organisation has been expanded beyond security and web acceleration, the two key operations for which it was purchased.

For example, Veronese says, the web acceleration function has been expanded to House of Travel’s own intranet, as well as its external websites.

Before getting NetScaler, House of Travel didn’t have a formal WAN acceleration set-up.

“We had a traditional firewall with standard web server compression.”

NetScaler has “given us flexibility we didn’t have before”, he says.

“For example, when we had large peaks in traffic, the web server would run out of capacity. NetScaler has dramatically increased our capacity – we used to reach peaks with hardware. Now, while we have the same hardware, we don’t have peaks.”

Since implementing NetScaler, the company has purchased Citrix’s virtual appliance for disaster recovery, using it in a remote datacentre, thus saving having to buy more hardware. The NetScaler implementation was done by Revera.

WAN optimisation has also paid dividends for South Island tourism operator Real Journeys, after it purchased appliances from Exinda to do the job.

The Exinda 2060 appliance was installed at the firm’s head office in Te Anau and Exinda 4860s at its two datacentres earlier this year, by the company in partnership with Gen-i. Distributor Packet Technologies was also involved in the implementation.

Real Journeys IT manager Mark Lovell says it was value for money that won Exinda the deal.

“It had a similar feature set to other appliances from the likes of Riverbed, but was inexpensive in comparison,” he claims.

Exinda provided unexpected insights into Real Journeys’ WAN, Lovell says.

“The majority of our internal traffic turned out to be thin client — that is, remote desktop protocol to servers – and mail. I had assumed it would have been web, but that didn’t turn out to be the case.

“Without any prior visibility into our WAN, it was an eye-opener seeing the pie charts showing pipe usage by application.

“For Te Anau for instance, traffic was 50 percent RDP as expected, but 33 percent mail though, which was very high.

“There was only a small amount remaining that was made up of web and all other applications.”

In the case of traffic between the company’s primary and secondary server rooms, “replication traffic dominated all other applications, but this was expected”.

The Exinda appliances enabled “a modest acceleration” in Real Journeys’ Data Domain storage deduplication appliances, with a 20 percent increase in throughput, Lovell says.

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