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September 30, 2009

Poor networking puts remote worker productivity on hold

WAN performance makes or breaks remote access

By CBR Staff Writer

Productivity of mobile workers could be being hindered by poor performing networks a new study has confirmed.

Application performance is revealed as a top concern for 25% of CIOs when dealing with remote office workers, the research has revealed with some IT shops having to spend up to 30 hours a week trying to fix the problem.

Carried out for Riverbed Technology, a poll of 100 CIOs working in a spread of vertical sectors revealed that among companies with more than 3,000 staff, more than 30% of employees could be working outside of corporate headquarters.

Most all of these will be accessing applications and databases across a WAN, from either a fixed or mobile end point.

One outcome of poorly managed network infrastructure is time wasted as users wait to access their work or files and data download.

Some 20% of remote employees can spend up to an hour or more per week doing this, it is claimed.

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Mark Lewis of at Riverbed said the data validated some of the assumptions the company had made about the problems encountered by people working remotely. “We actually found people are spending more time than we thought sorting out the problems of application access for off site workers,” he said.

“The bottom line is that not all employees are as productive as they could be.” He suggested the sort of technology produced by Riverbed, and the likes of Blue Coat, Citrix and Cisco, which optimises network traffic and accelerates application delivery, addresses the issue in two ways.

“First the technology can provide IT with an understanding of what applications, users and networks are actually doing, and they by identifying bottlenecks or other network issues can actually deliver a solution to the problem.” 

He added, “When a clogged and slow IT infrastructure impedes staff from doing their jobs away from corporate headquarters, it undermines the notion of distributed work forces and mobile computing.”

Riverbed claims use of its Steelhead appliances can increase the speed of business applications by up to 100 times across the enterprise WAN.

These application delivery appliances provide network administrators with a means of examining network traffic, eliminating latency and bandwidth issues on the enterprise WAN, and using acceleration to optimise network performance for business applications and business application users.

They are typically installed across multiple branch office sites just inside of the WAN-facing router and provide tools for streamlining the network infrastructure by consolidating functions such as content inspection and security, compression and QoS bandwidth management, load balancing and redundancy.

Application delivery acceleration software can also be installed onto laptops of mobile workers to improve the remote access experience by reducing latency when people are tapping into centrally held enterprise databases or file stores.

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