Trade Me is using WAN optimisation appliances to boost its regional links and to improve business continuity.
The online auction house says the four recently commissioned PacketShaper appliances have halved its back up times and reduced the load on its Wellington-Auckland link by up to 70%.
Network specialist Allister Maguire says maintaining business continuity for the country’s busiest website meant a daily backup of its core site, which took seven hours, starting at 6am.
Such a backup placed an unacceptable load on the site’s Auckland-Wellington network link, which also carries transactional traffic, such as site-to-site database queries and traffic related to data replication, which ensures the two sites remains in synch.
Maguire says Trade Me looked at alternatives to its back-up and replication problem, including increasing bandwith, prioritising traffic using network routers and deploying WAN optimisation appliances.
However, extra bandwith would have increased operational costs and the problem could have been repeated with further increases in traffic.
Router-based traffic prioritisation was also rejected because it would not offer the same levels of application traffic visibility, reporting, acceleration and ease of use of a comprehensive WAN optimisation system.
Packeteer was able to document the performance of its solution, Maguire says, with Trade Me able to pilot a solution of evaluation units before buying the four PacketShaper 10000 appliances.
By identifying transactional and backup traffic and then applying compression, acceleration and bandwith shaping techniques, the technology ensured Trade Me’s datacentres remained in sync while delivering the traffic critical to its auction site.
Packeteer breaking down the traffic by application allows Trade Me to apply a shaping policy, and the GUI interface allows easy management of these priorities, making it simple for his infrastructure team to use.
Maguire says the implementation took place in December 2007, with the installation taking only an hour or two for each site.
“With multiple links to multiple network providers, this work was completed during the day, while the sites were live,” he explains.
Since then, the system has performed “flawlessly”, he says, though Trade Me accepts it will have to upgrade its bandwith eventually, and the Packeteer solution will have to be similarly upgraded. For that reason scalability was also essential.
Maguire advises that evaluation is important, saying Trade Me always deploys evaluation equipment to see that it works as the vendor says.
“Given the somewhat unique characteristics of our environment, we will never commit or a hardware or software solution until we are 100% sure it can handle and will scale to what we need,” he says.
IT managers also need to be 100% confident of the feature set within the solution and how they perform under default implementations, he says.
“Ensure a good strong design team upfront but be prepared to change that as you become more familiar with the product. We did an HA and redundant implementation but had alternative ways it could have been done. We worked with the vendor to fine tune our design and had them on site early on,” Maguire adds.