WAN optimization, also known as WAN acceleration, is the category of technologies and techniques used to maximize the efficiency of data flow across a wide area network (WAN). In an enterprise WAN, the goal of optimization is to increase the speed of access to critical applications and information.

WAN optimization encompasses:

  • Traffic shaping, in which traffic is prioritized and bandwidth is allotted accordingly.
  • Data deduplication, which reduces the data that must be sent across a WAN for remote backups, replication, and disaster recovery.
  • Compression, which shrinks the size of data to limit bandwidth use.
  • Data caching, in which frequently used data is hosted locally or on a local server for faster access.
  • Monitoring the network to detect non-essential traffic.
  • Creating and enforcing rules about downloads and Internet use.
  • Protocol spoofing, which is a method of bundling chatty protocols so they are, in effect, a single protocol.