WAN optimization is hitting the big time, fueled by a combination of demand for global network solutions and the means to deliver virtual and other resources over the cloud.
Infonetics Research's latest report on the technology claims it to be a $1 billion market, a 29 percent increase over the past year. If that kind of performance keeps up, it could be one of the few areas in enterprise technology that shows true resiliency against the ongoing recession. Infonetics reports Cisco as the market leader at the moment in terms of worldwide sales, followed by Blue Coat and Riverbed.
This might only be the beginning of an upward trend for WAN optimization. Gartner claims that the lucrative SMB market has barely touched the technology, despite the tremendous benefits it brings to small companies. Among them are improved application performance, particularly for Web-based applications or in consolidated server environments, not to mention the delay in what would be very expensive WAN bandwidth upgrades.
WAN optimization may prove to be a vital component in virtual environments, particularly virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI), according to Network World's Jim Duffy. Pushing VDI out over the WAN would be a highly desirable development but for the fact of its high bandwidth requirements, limited scalability and the poor performance of most VDI platforms outside the LAN. Optimization services can help on all counts by reducing bandwidth demands by 70 percent.
The leading optimization platforms are also evolving beyond traditional acceleration and into more of a network application platform role. Witness Riverbed's recent alliance with Microsoft that allows the Steelhead appliance to run Windows under the Riverbed Services Platform (RSP). In essence, you'll be able to run applications like Domain Name System and Active Directory directly on the Steelhead appliance, simplifying management and reducing energy consumption.
Optimization works because it adheres to that old adage "Do more with less." You can improve your network functionality and overall enterprise productivity and give your centralized systems greater reach over a regional or even global infrastructure.