WAN Optimization Wars

Michael Vizard

There is a debate over how much WAN optimization solutions need to rely on hardware versus software-only approaches, and how much of this technology can run on in the cloud versus being deployed on premise.

The folks at Blue Coat Systems would generally agree that the most important thing is software. But where that software runs might now be the primary issue.

According to Mark Urban, Blue Coat senior director of product marketing, Blue Coat has become a leading vendor in the WAN optimization space because first, it optimized HTTP traffic, and secondly, it has a unique object cache specifically designed to deal with Web application content such as video. Given that the vast amount of acceleration that most customers want to deal with has to do with Web applications, Urban says Blue Coat has been gaining ground.

As important as WAN optimization is, however, Bojan Simic, president of the market research firm Trac Research, has issued a report that notes that WAN optimization by itself isn't all that useful unless the organization has visibility into the performance of applications on its network. Then an investment in WAN optimization makes sense because organizations will know which applications to apply WAN optimization to first.

The challenge with WAN optimization, of course, has been the expense and complexity associated with deploying the technology. But as the costs drop, in no small measure due to the battle royale among Blue Coat, Riverbed Technology, Certeon, Cisco, Juniper Networks and Aryaka, the complexity of WAN optimization is dropping. At the same time, the number of latency-sensitive applications on the network grows with each passing day. So it's a matter of time before everybody deploys WAN optimization software in one form or another.

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Add Comment      Leave a comment on this blog post
Oct 16, 2010 2:10 AM Grins Grins  says:
Why even deploy hardware when there are solutions that are more cost effective via the network... Akamai - IPA solution set - Internap XIP solution set - many more. These solutions don't require hardware and in the case of Internap - I was blown away at how low a cost it can be to have a solution tied to the network element... There are about 4 others that are also providing similar solutions - how and how long will the appliances even be part of the discussion? Reply
Oct 16, 2010 3:10 AM Anonymous Anonymous  says:
How can any large enteprise deploy a software-only solution when there are no virtual WAN optimization products today that scale beyond 45 Mbps? You will see a mix and match of software solutions + physical appliances for many years to come - especially when data centers and large branch offices enter into the equation... As for cloud based WANop solutions - great in theory, but they dont support a wide enough breadth of applications to satisfy enteprise needs. Why buy a service that just supports web and/or file traffic when you can purchase a solution that optimizes ALL your IP traffic? What about VDI, SQL, backup/replication, Email - all of that traffic needs to be optimized, too... Reply
Aug 24, 2011 8:08 AM Kevin Suitor Kevin Suitor  says:
Fully agree on the need for a unified performance management solution that encompassed all elements required to addreess today's WAN Optimization challenge. Exinda has pioneered a unified approach to WAN Op that includes best in class visibility, control and optimization coupled with the Exinda Edge Cache(tm) which is a single-sided video, software update and http/https cache delivering 35 - 80% data reduction on these traffic types. See a brief demo at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jA0J9DVgr1Y Reply

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