Making the WAN as fast as the LAN

I get a common question on how to make users from multiple offices share the same drawings seamlessly. They want to be able to work on files stored in New York while working from Seattle just as they were in the New York office. In the realm of WAN optimization, the biggest player is Riverbed Steelhead. Autodesk works directly with Riverbed and many firms already have it in place, but it’s important to know what actually happens.

The appliance takes data across the wire and caches it, sending only bits that haven’t been sent (incremental changes). The first 5MB file you send will take 1 minute (cold). If someone requests the same file later, that transfer will take 10-20 seconds (warm). The older DWG file format (2007 and older), along with older Autodesk software, does the full file swap when saving, negating any benefit from appliance.

Solution?

  1. Change the “Incremental Save Percentage” (ISP) inside AutoCAD to 50.
  2. Use the 2010 DWG format!
    • Why? The 2007 DWG format are not optimized. When you do every open/save, all the bits inside it are rearranged, data de-duplication technologies can’t recognize them, and the entire file looks new to Riverbed’s data hashing algorithms.
    • 2007 is sooooo 2007. Last time I checked, it is not 2007 anymore.

Another interesting tidbit is that if you analyze the data from your Steelhead, besides AutoCAD files being optimized, a lot of the benefit comes from other things are being optimized. You’d be surprised how chatty software is.

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