There is an interesting article on TMCnet.com this morning by their resident WAN optimization guru, Thierry Grenot, discussing the benefits of "cooperative optimization."
It seems that typical multi-protocol label switching (MPLS), which is great at maintaining critical application performance within its own infrastructure, has trouble dealing with outside users and applications, particularly as the industry shies away from traditional hub-and-spoke networks.
Cooperative optimization sets up a communications protocol between devices to allow them to exchange information about what they are doing and how the network is responding. Things like user demand for resources, traffic handling and systems availability can be transmitted end-to-end, providing a distributed traffic management system.
As you can imagine, benefits run the gamut from decreased operating costs and network congestion to improved QoS and application-user experiences.
The only thing not covered in the article is how, exactly, cooperative optimization is implemented. But since Grenot is CTO of Ipanema Technologies, we have a hunch they could help you out if you're really interested.