What's to explain the rising tide of WAN optimization solutions these days? Well, heavy demand, for one thing. But there's also the fact that optimization lends itself very nicely to the adage "There's more than one way to skin a cat."
One of those ways is through increased network intelligence, which is said to boost optimization performance even while cutting down on CPU usage. Israel's Silicom Ltd. is exploring this area, having just come out with the Redirector adapter line that combines intelligent filtering, multiport connectivity and automated bypass onto a single network card. The system cuts the number of data packets to be processed in half, reducing the bottlenecks that arise from the higher loads delivered over 10 Gbps interfaces.
A host of new software solutions is bringing new tools to the game as well. This shootout by CRN pits the virtualization capabilities of Replify Ltd.'s Reptor Accelerator against the file replication technology of GlobalScape's Availl system and the free, open source Traffic Squeezer accelerator. I won't give away their conclusions, but it is safe to say that software can provide effective optimization, provided you have the in-house expertise to deploy and maintain it.
Meanwhile, established optimization vendors are looking to extend their offerings through new service options and partnerships with major server platform providers. Expand Networks just announced a new professional services solution that provides things like project planning, support and consulting services designed to cater to highly distributed enterprises. Riverbed Technology has joined Microsoft's Protocol Optimization Licensing Program that should lead to further development of solutions tailored to Windows-based applications. The company recently added protocol-level optimization of Exchange 2000, 2003 and 2007 to the Riverbed Optimization System (RiOS).
And optimization is drawing in some names that had all but given up on the technology. Juniper has apparently jumped back into the market with the WXC 1800, 2600 and 3400 appliances, which rely on much of the same hardware as the company's broader network portfolio. But for some reason, Juniper opted to forgo the JUNOS operating system for the WXC line, remaining instead with the WX-OS, albeit with an upgraded version. The company has said, though, that it will standardize JUNOS across its entire hardware platform eventually.
This plethora of optimization solutions doesn't make it easy to find the right solution, although it does make it more likely that vendors will go that extra mile to get you what you need.