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Exinda SMB
Forms the basis for Windows file sharing


Exinda’s industry-leading WAN Optimization solutions now features improved SMB performance.

The Server Message Block (SMB) is a remote file access protocol that forms the basis for Windows file sharing, allowing users to share and modify files on different computers and platforms. It is a de facto standard and comes pre-bundled with all Microsoft-based client and server platforms.

Each time you browse or access files on a Windows server using Windows Explorer, the SMB protocol is used. Anyone who has ever copied a file and seen the dialog box in Figure 1 has used the SMB protocol.

SMB transfer

In addition to file sharing, SMB is also used for network printing, resource location services, remote management, network authentication, and Remote Procedure Calls.

When using the Exinda SMB Object Cache alongside Exinda’s WAN Memory byte caching, organizations can ensure that optimization is delivered to all traffic types regardless of the traffic source. Whether it is sourced at the corporate data center or headquar-ters, Exinda’s WAN memory caching and acceleration technology will improve the user experience and reduce the network footprint.

Issues with SMB

SMB was designed back in the 1980s and is a very “chatty” protocol, meaning a large number of back and forth transactions are required. As illustrated in Figure 2, each SMB request requires a response before the next request is sent to the SMB server. Therefore as latency increases the performance of SMB decreases.

Exinda understands the SMB protocol, and acts on behalf of a SMB client and server. The result is a dramatic improvement in activities such as file downloads (read), file uploads (write), and remote access (for example, opening a PowerPoint file on a remote SMB share), as illustrated in Figure 3.

SMB High Latency WAN

Based on traffic flows, Exinda can reliably anticipate future SMB related transactions. When a local Exinda determines a certain SMB transaction is likely, it pre-fetches data (for example, a file) and temporarily stores it in the remote Exinda’s system memory. Once the pre-fetched data is referenced (transaction successfully predicted) it is deleted from the memory. No file caching is involved, just transient storage of data to facilitate improved SMB response.

Exinda Improves SMB Performance

On Exinda appliances, the performance of the SMB protocol has been improved in three ways:

SMB/SMB2 Acceleration

Exinda accelerates all SMB traffic. Both SMB1 and SMB2 can be configured independently from one another, if needed. While SMB was the original form of the protocol, SMB2 is more prevalent today as the default for Windows Vista, Windows 7, and Windows 8 traffic.

SMB Object Cache

The SMB Object Cache works like Edge Cache. It is independent of WAN Memory and uses the same resources, without duplication, for both SMB and SMB2 traffic.

With data in the cache, the Exinda appliance handles read and write requests as “warm” data transfers, sending only new or modified data even though complete files may have been requested, thereby reducing the overall traffic volumes and significantly increasing the rate of data transfer over the WAN.

SMB file download

SMB Pre-population

Pre-population of the SMB object cache allows customers to make sure their cache is ready to go before any traffic passes through the Exinda appliance. Either specific files or whole directories can be specified and fed into the SMB object cache. Pre-population can even be scheduled to occur at a time convenient to the network, reducing network strain, and making better use of less utilized “off-hour” bandwidth.

Conclusion

Each Exinda Acceleration software license represents Exinda’s deep understanding of the SMB protocol, and it can therefore act on behalf of a SMB client (for example, a Microsoft Windows 7 computer) and server (for example, a Windows Server 2008 server) to make the interaction between the two much more efficient. This results in a dramatic improvement in file access, while accelerating remote access to MS Office Files so users experience LAN-like speeds across the WAN.

Exinda SMB Acceleration also works seamlessly with WAN Memory and Compression and will benefit from WAN Memory’s ability to reduce data traversing the WAN just as other applications such as FTP, HTTP or email do. This results in a holistic solution that delivers Exinda customers LAN-like application performance over their WAN, accelerat-ing file transfer, email, client server applications, data replication, and others while delivering high performance for all users.