Firms told: Optimise WANs before Longhorn

Buying external WAN optimisation now will have paid for itself by the time Longhorn server comes around, according to one analyst

Firms looking to optimise their wide area networks (WANs) should make a short-term investment in external units now rather than waiting for the next version of Windows Server, an analyst has claimed.

Senior analyst Eric Siegel of the Burton Group said on Tuesday that available external solutions "pay for themselves quickly" and raise productivity, so IT managers should not "lose time worrying about making a perfect long-term choice".

The next version of Windows Server, code-named Longhorn, will be officially named according to the year in which it is released — probably 2007, possibly 2008. According to Siegel, even when it is released it will take a while for organisations to upgrade.

"Whenever it does come out, most corporations aren't going to install it right then — they're still going to wait another year or two," Siegel told ZDNet UK on Thursday. He said his advice had been prompted by speaking to a variety of Burton Group clients who had been planning to roll out some form of WAN optimisation over the next year or two, and were expecting the result to last for 10 years.

"In three years you're probably going to want to re-engineer it because of improvements in Vista," was Siegel's opinion. "Do it now. It'll pay for itself quickly. Don't get involved in some two-year study while your users are miserable, your productivity is low and you're paying through the nose for bandwidth."

Siegel pointed out that Vista and Longhorn will bring significant improvements such as improved quality of service control for VoIP applications, speedier file sharing and such as Riverbed and Blue Coat.

Siegel added that his advice was particularly targeted at larger organisations, which are less likely to make the move to Vista in the next year or two. Smaller, more "nimble" organisations that are currently experiencing problems with Windows file shares or the installation of "long fat networks", or early adopters of VoIP, might want to take advantage of Longhorn's features sooner, he said.