Q

Remote office users complain that characters don't immediately appear on the screen when they type o

We are considering consolidating multiple remote office servers to a few shared corporate servers back here at headquarters. This means that remote users will access their Word and Excel documents over the frame-relay WAN at 128 Kbps, 512 Kbps, and 1.544 Mbps connections. In a test group, users at these remote locations have experienced severe slowness in accessing these Microsoft documents. Remote office users complain that characters don't immediately appear on the screen when they type on the document that is stored on the server back at corporate headquarters. Also, it takes 10-20 seconds for the cursor to reappear after having moved it through a line of text. What is the problem here and what can be done to optimize this situation? Increasing bandwidth is not cost-effective and we cannot put the servers back at the remote offices. Can the Microsoft applications or Cisco routers be tweaked somehow to eliminate this issue?
I would suggest that you monitor the types of traffic you have on the WAN links and also monitor your throughput to be sure that you are getting the throughput that you need. Your other option would be to install a product such as Citrix. This product has servers that access the applications and files locally to the server and the only thing that travels the Internet links is mouse clicks, keystrokes and screen refreshes. You can also look at a product like Packeteer that will allow you to prioritize your traffic. As for tuning the Microsoft applications, I am not aware of anything internal to the applications that will help. You may also want to check which protocols are loaded at the workstations. You can also increase the buffers in your switches and routers for added benefit.
This was first published in May 2004

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