David Trossell, CEO of Bridgeworks talks to Data Centre & Network News about the witches and warlocks slowing down and cursing Wide Area Networks (WANs) this Halloween.
October 30, 2023
Halloween is nearly upon us. The WAN witches are looking forward to a night of mischief, and this year the warlocks have turned off the TV to join in. While children are looking forward to trick and treating, streaming services, e-commerce operations, such as Amazon, are preparing to sell their wares. However, the gremlins that could stop them remain wide area network (WAN) latency and packet loss.
These are two ghouls that can impact the largest corporate WAN, slowing down downloads and uploads to the extent that the enjoyment of streaming services could be marred by jitter. Even if watching scary movies isn’t your thing and you need to send ever increasing volumes of data from one side of the world to the other over a WAN for backing up or restoring, latency and packet loss can render any prospect of this impossible. Slow data transfers also pose a potential security risk, particularly if the data is being transferred to different clouds, which means there is a need to have the ability to send and receive data securely and at speed over long distances.
The spell that is typically seen as the answer is in the form of SD-WANs, and increasingly, Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) is being deployed. The trouble is that even the most experienced network witch or warlock can find their Halloween operations jeopardised by latency and packet loss. So, they have been looking beyond their cauldrons, as they’ve heard that it’s possible to benefit from SD-WANs that add a WAN Acceleration Overlay. After all, there is much money to be made from fun scary moments.
Spending to rise
In the US, the National Retail Federation (the NRF) forecasts that spending over the Halloween period will reach a record of $12.2bn, exceeding last year’s record of $10.6bn. This is according to the NRF’s annual survey, which was conducted by Prosper Insights and Analytics. “A record number of people (73%) will participate in Halloween-related activities this year, up from 69% in 2022,” it predicts.
In the UK, an analysis by Finder suggests that spending in the country will reach over £1bn in 2023. It finds that 56% of Brits are planning to make a purchase and adds, “Planned Halloween spending for 2023 is projected to be 38% higher than Finder’s original estimate of £777 million based on past spending.”
Data analysis accuracy
From an e-commerce perspective, latency and packet loss can render big data analysis less accurate. Saras Analytics comments, “Data latency is the time it takes for your data to become available in your database or data warehouse after an event occurs. Data latency can affect the quality and accuracy of your data analytics, as well as the performance of your data-driven applications. Therefore, it is important to measure and optimise data latency in your data warehouse.”
In some circumstances, downtime or poor database synchronisation could cause regulatory compliance issues, such as a failure to comply with the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulations. This can lead to an organisation being heavily fined. Poor WAN performance can render big data analysis inaccurate, leading to the lightning of poor decision-making and sub-optimal strategies, as well as ineffective corporate strategies.
Quite often, with big data analysis, real-time data is required to make instant decisions, or in the case of e-commerce, to make accurate predictions of what customers really want to buy. Slow network performance could even be life-threatening. Autonomous vehicles (or autonomous broomsticks) are a case in point, they need accurate data to make decisions themselves and to be able to react to different circumstances and road conditions. For safety reasons, automakers are designing connected and autonomous vehicles (CAVs) to operate, even when there is no network connection.
Cyber security: More trick than treat
Then there is the issue of cyber security. Halloween can be more trick than treat when it comes to cyber attacks. FIDO Alliance puts the tricks used by cyber criminals into several categories: the wolf in sheep’s clothing, where wolves, including fraudsters who could be lurking behind friendly online chats; the ghosts of phishmas past, such as a phishing email or text message asking someone to confirm their personal details; the shapeshifter, deepfake audio and video that aim to get the viewer to give away sensitive information; the terminator, a social engineering attack that may use artificial intelligence and machine learning to spear phish the victim to encourage that person to share sensitive information. With each of these, fraudsters feel treated when they successfully manage to get access to passwords.
A report by VEEAM highlights why the most sensitive data needs to be air-gapped. In its ‘2023 Ransomware Trends Report’, which involves interviews with 350 IT leaders whose organisations have survived a cyber attack, 93% of these attacks are aimed to destroy back-up data. Only 13% of these were able to recover their systems, data and operations without paying a ransom, while 20% of those that did pay a ransom still couldn’t recover their data.
VEEAM therefore advises organisations to be relentless with security, as it finds that, “44% of organisations first restored to a sandbox before production”.
Organisations also need to limit their risk exposure. This is particularly critical, as it finds that 56% of organisations run the risk of re‑infection during restoration. It also argues that recovery is everything because, “60% believe a significant overhaul is needed between backup and security teams.”
Part of that overhaul should include WAN Acceleration. It deploys artificial intelligence, machine learning and data parallelisation to expedite encrypted data over wide area networks. It doesn’t compete with SD-WANs, since it can be overlayed onto them, allowing faster and more secure back-ups and restoring, as well as providing more accurate data analysis, since it mitigates latency and packet loss. As a technology, it can work with any old and existing infrastructure. This is crucial because buying bigger pipes doesn’t necessarily increasing bandwidth utilisation, nor tackle latency and packet loss. In contrast, WAN Acceleration can increase bandwidth utilisation by up to 98%.
This news has led three witches to ask: “Witch WAN Warlock?” The answer has to be a combination of SD-WANs and WAN Acceleration. It’s a solution that’s more treat than trick. WAN Acceleration accelerates data transfer speeds up to 200x faster than traditional WAN optimisation technologies, while enabling the transmission of encrypted data at speed, and that’s something that traditional WANop can’t do. Organisations can accelerate their WAN by using the spell of WAN acceleration to increase the performance of their organisation, and bring sunshine rather than thunder, lightning and rain to your customers and operations over the Halloween period and beyond.
– Artwork design, Alishia Hoyle