Office 365 Application Performance with Cisco Intelligent WAN


January 17, 2016

IT directors and network administrators today have a tough job. They somehow need to balance an ever-expanding collection of mission critical applications with the rising costs of private WAN solutions. The cloud has only made this more difficult. Many private and hybrid cloud resources as well as Software as a Service (SaaS) applications, such as the Office 365 application, can quickly monopolize the available bandwidth leading to unacceptable latency issues. In response to this dynamic, companies are looking to leverage the internet to route critical traffic as opposed to dumping more money into their private WAN contracts. Cisco offers an Intelligent Wide Area Network (IWAN) solution, and it has the potential to drastically improve performance and cut costs.


What is an Intelligent WAN?

On one level, an intelligent WAN is just like any other wide area network. It connects the office’s local area network (LAN) to the wide reaches of the web. It is the highway by which office staff can access the internet. Cisco IWAN takes this concept one step further and provides network administrators an additional level of control. Instead of being structured with primary pathways flooded with traffic and secondary pathways waiting in the wings, an IWAN can alleviate congestion in the WAN and improve performance.

Benefits of an IWAN include: 

  • Performance Routing: IWAN enables an IT director or network administrator to reroute business-critical traffic, like voice and video traffic, through specific paths. This makes certain the most essential information will be free of latency, delay, and packet loss issues, and no member of the team will be left waiting for a file or application to load.
  • Intelligent Load Balancing: Instead of forcing the bulk of traffic through primary paths, an IWAN will distribute traffic throughout every available path and alleviate the bottlenecks at times of peak traffic.
  • Cisco’s Application Visibility and Control (AVC): An IWAN puts control back in the hands of the administrators by providing the ability to differentiate between all sources of incoming application traffic and apply policies for each.


IWAN, WAAS, and the Office 365 Application

One of the main reasons IT directors choose to implement an IWAN in their environment is to deal with bandwidth-demanding applications like, Virtual Desktops, and the Office 365 application. Office 365 is the entire Microsoft Office Suite made available through the cloud, as a service. It delivers a number of benefits outlined in our blog post “Office 365: Saving Money with the Cloud.”

An IWAN can be used to ensure peak performance of your Office 365 application regardless of traffic spikes or other applications in use.

Optimized Encrypted HTTP Traffic:  Historically, it has been a challenge to attempt to optimize encrypted HTTP traffic, such as Office 365. But with Cisco’s application visibility control, it is a simple matter of setting a policy to give this traffic priority over non-essential business traffic.

As with anything in the technology world, security is a concern. Cisco’s IWAN solution employs strong application encryption protocols to protect the data as it traverses the IWAN from the network to end users.

Wide Area Application Services (WAAS):
  The WAAS is a component of Cisco’s IWAN, and it can be leveraged to improve the performance of Office 365 in a few key ways:

  • Microsoft Office 365 URLS can be obtained and optimized using (SSL) certificates
  • WAAS can create a specific SSL accelerated service for Office 365
  • Accelerate Office 365 shared traffic

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For Further Reading:

Microsoft Office 365 to Integrate with Windows 10

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