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One challenge common to any feature-rich Web-based application is how to mitigate the wide area network (WAN) overhead for remote users accessing the application over long distances and low network bandwidth.  It's no exception for SAP BusinessObject Enterprise (BOE). Users typically enjoy excellent performance with a BOE application in LAN scenario, but when WAN is in the picture, the user experience often varies depending on how much performance degradation is introduced by network latency and bandwidth constraints.

Think about an enterprise BOE deployment where the system is installed in a central location such as California and accessed by end users around the world.  Take a very simple example, considering a user opening a 10000 row Web report using BOE InfoView from different locations.  Testing at SAP Co-innovation lab (COIL) shows that for a user in a LAN environment, it takes only 0.595 second to open the report, pretty good, right? Now let's consider a user connecting from Tokyo over a network with 5 mbps bandwidth and 200 ms latency, he or she has to wait 86 seconds for the report to open.  If that's not painful enough, put your feet in the shoes of a user connecting from India over a network with 1.5 mbps bandwidth and 350 ms latency, the response time shoots up to 298 second. The impact of network may be much more that many of us have really thought about it when we build applications. I for one was surprised to see the scale of the degradation.

There got be some way to fix such performance degradation introduced by WAN networks.    

SAP offers our own solution on accelerated application delivery. SAP AccAD overcomes bandwidth and latency issues  with caching, compression algorithms and special application aware optimizations. Currently, there are specific optimizations available for the SAP NetWeaver Portal, Knowledge Management (accessing and collaborating on documents) and the SAP Learning Solution. With the generic optimizations, web-enabled SAP applications can benefit from this technology with significant performance improvements as well (like SAP NetWeaver BW, web-based SAP Business Suite applications, SAP CRM, web-based Non-SAP applications).

For customers who would like to explore alternative solutions, we realize there are many choices in the marketplace. Here we would like to report to you a project we have done at the lab with Blue Coat, one of the providers in the WAN optimization space. We will report more solutions when they become available to us.

In a project we just completed at COIL, SAP and Blue Coat worked closely to develop a joint solution to mitigate wide area network impact on BOE global deployment. Blue Coat's WAN optimization solution is designed to address network overhead that impacts application delivery performance to remote end users. Using a combination of caching, compression, and TCP optimizations, their ProxySG appliance reduces the bandwidth required for WAN-delivered application. More critically, ProxySG reduces the amount of data sent back and forth across the WAN, dramatically reducing the impact of latency on application performance. With a lot of static data in the BOE solution, Blue Coat comes into play very nicely for the WAN issue we have in hand.

In LAN scenario, Blue Coat doesn't really make any difference for performance, but it's really a game changer for WAN scenarios. The diagram below describes the logical equivalent architecture of the solution with Blue Coat, where its appliances are symmetrically deployed in the central deployment site of SAP BusinessObjects Enterprise and in all the remote locations to accelerate network performance.

 

Our testing shows that Blue Coat brings in a tremendous improvement in the BOE user experiences for all WAN conditions tested.

Let's go back to the example of opening a 10000 row Web report. With Blue coat, for the user in Tokyo, the waiting time was brought down from 86 seconds to 1.9 seconds. What about the poor guy in Indian who had to wait 298 second? Well, blue coat brought the response time down to 6.7 second. How better can you expect?

Intrigued? Well, the project team has published a whitepaper to share all the details of the BOE and Blue Coat landscape setup and the testing results. Feel free to download the paper from here (http://www.sdn.sap.com/irj/scn/index?rid=/library/uuid/7074d8e5-fd45-2d10-2eb9-b5b21a9a5b35)

Of course, Blue Coat is not the only players in this space, there are quite a few other vendors who offer similar solutions. COIL is a membership based organization and we are open to work with all of our members to explore and validate their solutions in the context of SAP landscape. If other solutions are made available to us so we have the opportunity to test and validate how they perform with SAP applications, we will definitely share with you our findings here too. Stay tuned.

Last but most important, kudos to all the colleagues who have contributed significantly to the project. just to mention a few - Thanks to our friends form Blue Coat, Benjamin Rice, Chris Webber, Jonathan Bensen, Chris Wood, who have made numerous trips to COIL through the notorious Silicon valley commute time traffic;  The BOE colleagues Jay Thoden van Velzen, JC Raveneau and Sinisa Knezevic who contributed the business case and helped set up the BOE landscape, and the never-sleep COIL engineers Siva Gopal Modadugula and Igor Khurgin with the support of Peter Aeschlimann, and Irakli Natsvlishvili. Joerg Nalik, the in-team SAP network guru who offered numerous advises to the team and helped alignment with various SAP groups. Of course the great COIL operation master David Cruickshank who is also the master mind behind the project.

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