Sangfor WANACC M5500 review

As the need for the mobile workers continue to rise among businesses across the globe, it becomes pertinent to prepare IT requirements accordingly.

In such a scenario, WAN optimization comes in as a great cost-effective tool for businesses who need faster-performing WAN links as well as are looking to increase productivity from the existing WAN resources.

The Indian market serves as the perfect ground for WAN products as the IT market is marked by low bandwidth and expensive connectivity. Therefore utilizing WAN optimization technology helps in cutting costs and increasing staff productivity more efficiently. At present there are numerous vendors in the market that offer WAN optimization products to offer acceleration solutions and relief from commonly encountered WAN packet delivery issues.

So, you may ask what does the newcomer Sangfor offer? Sangfor aims to customize its range of WAN optimization solution according to your business as well as your wallet.

Sangfor's M5500 is a 2U rack appliance that has handling capacity of 6,000 concurrent TCP connections and WAN speed up to 50Mbps. The device also has a couple of SFP ports that assures longer connectivity and contains a hardware bypass switch that keeps you connected with the Internet, even if the appliance fails.

The M5500 is incorporated with an inbuilt TCP proxy feature that helps in intercepting and optimizing the entire TCP traffic. Additionally, Sangfor provides proxies for popular applications such as Microsoft Exchange, Lotus Notes, Share point, MS-SQL, Oracle among others.

Some of the notable features of this device include bandwidth management, protocol optimization, compression and byte caching plus application proxies. Apart from these, the device also has a Portable ACCelerator or PACC software that offers WAN optimization up to 300 mobile users.

Also normally policies are used to generally determine how various traffic types are handled and how these can be applied to specific users and groups. In this department to Sangfor leads by providing predefined policies. It however lets the businesses choose specific protocols and elect to have byte caching enabled along with LZO or GZIP compression.

In order to gauge the efficiency of M5500, we put the appliance to test at our office to see how it performs.

We used a Windows Server 2008 R2 system running IIS, FTP and Microsoft Exchange 2007 and placed the M5500 appliance on each side for our head office network. After completing appliance-to-appliance testing we loaded the PACC client on our hosts and linked them directly to the WAN simulator. We were pleased by the swiftness of the deployment and also that you didn't require a command line interface also known as CLI access.

For the second round which included the performance testing we used a 10MB powerpoint presentation.We first copied the test file from server to client without optimization. The process took 93 seconds. Then we tried the same process with optimization and it was done in just seven seconds.

We noticed a massive improvement on retrieving the email from the Exchange server front too. With no optimization it took 228 seconds and when optimization was enabled it took just four seconds.

FTP operations also yielded similar result with the retrieving time being slashed done from 89 seconds to just four seconds with Sangfor in the mix. Also remotely opening the file took 103 seconds and saving a modification to the server took 120 seconds. With optimization in action these times were reduced to 15 seconds and 34 second respectively. After our battery of performance tests we removed the remote appliance and loaded the PACC software on our clients.

The setup couldn't have been any easier. Users only needed to provide the IP address of the central appliance along with a valid user name and password for the setup. The local hard disk cache also proved to be slightly faster for all tests than the remote appliance with the copy test completed over an optimized link in just three seconds. The email and its attachment also only took three seconds to retrieve. Nevertheless to say we were not disappointed with the performance of the appliance.

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