(Editors Note:  Today’s post is by EMA Senior Analyst Tracy Corbo)

Finally freed from the demands of crunching together data for our just-released ADC/LB radar report, it was a good time to check in on the WAN optimization front and see what has been transpiring over the last couple of months. What I found was an interesting pattern. There are the usual product updates and the bit of conjecture regarding the status of one vendor’s source funding, but there is also a prevalent theme and, I am afraid, I must say that I think the connection has to do with that so-overused term “cloud.”  First, here are the items that caught my eye (by no means an exhaustive list):

  • October 5  – Cisco announced a family of new WAN optimization appliances targeted at the branch. The new Cisco WAAS appliances 294, 594, and 694 appliances enable branch offices to deploy up to eight virtual services such as video, virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) and Windows on WAAS.
  • October 12 – Cisco and Citrix Systems announced that they have entered into a strategic alliance to develop and deliver high-definition virtual desktops and applications and improve end-user experiences over a highly secure Citrix HDX-enabled Cisco networks, including specific new optimization functionality in Cisco WAAS products.
  • October 14 – Citrix announced the addition of Citrix Branch Repeater (WAN optimization) as a virtual service on the NetScaler SDX application delivery controller (ADC) platform.
  • October 18 – Expand Networks – According to an article in an Israeli-based newspaper Globes, an Israeli court appointed a receiver for the company after one of their primary investors, Plenus Venture Lending Fund petitioned the court. While Expand Networks appears to be operating as normal, it does raise concerns over the company’s long-term viability.

As I was looking at all these various announcements, a couple of things jumped out at me. One this is a tough market. As the market has reached a level of maturity, it is not just enough to push applications faster through fixed pipes. Many things have changed since these appliances first hit the market. The initial goal was to improve application performance between the datacenter and the branch offices. Now with the growth of mobile devices, that demand is moving out of the branch and onto wireless and carrier networks. This presents problems both from a performance and a security perspective. The ability of end users to introduce malware and viruses into the corporate network will continue to increase.  How do companies keep their networks secure?

Next: Cloud, like it or not, is here to stay and it too is changing how networks are architected. It demands asymmetric deployment models and virtualization is a must. If you want to play in the cloud you have to be able to deploy in this fashion.

The rate of change has accelerated, making it very difficult to keep up. Change has become a constant. These announcements not only reflect the need to remain relevant in this fast paced market, but it also speaks to how things like mobility and cloud are driving not just IT departments to work together, but IT vendors as well. Citrix and Cisco each have their own WAN optimization technology. However, in some cases based on customer demand, it is better to partner and provide a single point of contact rather than create a point of contention. For vendors such as HP it makes more sense to work with an existing WAN optimization vendor rather than trying to build their own solutions, because the required time to market is too short and the pain point is too high to do otherwise.

Vendors in the WAN optimization space need to remain relevant and at the same time find ways to differentiate themselves among all the other options out in the market. All this is happening during a time of decreased spending and more competition for every IT dollar, so it make sense that rivals might want to find ways to work together so that they can both get a piece of that ever-shrinking IT pie.

Overall, the WAN Optimization sector promises to continue changing and being an interesting area of technology development.  The value delivered is still compelling, and demand is strong enough to keep driving innovation and competition.  EMA will keep an eye on the developments and do our best to keep you informed!


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