dating servers saves on hardwarecost and software licenses and pro-vides a greener and lower-cost solu-tion because it requires less powerand cooling. It also makes mainte-nance easier because all the serversare located in one place. Disasterrecovery becomes easier, as well,because the servers easily fit intothe data center’s disaster-recoveryscheme, rather than being dispersed.Overall, consolidating branch officeservers in the data center is a winnerand a trend that will become evenmore common in a down economy.The problem with a consolidationproject is its effect on the WAN.Data that was local to the user andretrieved over a high-speed local areanetwork (LAN) now must cross theWAN. Normally, this means thatbandwidth must be increased. Buteven with increased bandwidth, therecan be response-time problems thatspeed alone will not solve. The mainproblem is the Common Internet FileSystem (CIFS), the protocol Micro-soft uses to allow programs to makerequests for files and services onremote computers. Initially, it wasvery inefficient over the WAN. Forexample, when CIFS downloaded afile, it asked for a block of data andthen waited for an acknowledgmentbefore asking for the next block ofdata. This inefficient protocol wasnot a problem over a LAN becauseit involved almost no latency. Overthe WAN, it created a slow start-stopprocess, which greatly increased filedownload time. Recent improvementsto CIFS allow it to ask for multipleblocks of data at once, increasing itsefficiency. That has not completelyeliminated the start-stop processover the WAN and long downloads,however.Another problem that server con-solidation introduces is the effect onsome of the services that the serversprovide to local users. Local serversprovide Dynamic Host ConfigurationProtocol (DHCP), domain name sys-tem (DNS), and activity directoryservices and support printing to localprinters. Moving these services to thedata center does not enhance themor provide any significant benefit andinstead can introduce problems. Ifthe link to the data center is down,then branch office users are prevent-ed from performing any networkingfunctions. Even if there are still localservers or alternate routes to theInternet, users can’t take advantageof them without DHCP or DNS. Hav-ing a good backup path in the WANis an important strategy, and if prob-lems do occur it will be necessary tohave DHCP and DNS functions local-ly. Even if the link is up, routing a print job to the data center and then back
THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO GAINING CONTROL OF THE WAN
The problem withconsolidation is itseffect on the WAN.Data that was localon a high-speed LANmust now cross theWAN.