Window on WANs

Jan 13 2011   11:13AM GMT

Gartner Magic Quadrant 2010 takeaways: Walk the WOC

Tessa Parmenter Tessa Parmenter Profile: Tessa Parmenter

A renewed interest has pumped up the WAN optimization controller (WOC) market according to multiple sources, including Gartner’s Magic Quadrant 2010 for WAN optimization controllers. 

Evidence of this can be seen in the increased revenue of most WOC vendors last quarter (Expand, however, was knocked off the magic quadrant for not meeting the revenue threshold). And while many markets are becoming buoyant in the wake of the recession, the WOC market will rise higher due to an increase of teleworkers for 2011 (a topic I covered in my blog post last week, What does the future of the WAN look like for 2011?).

Silver Peak put it this way: “In the past, WAN optimization has been a Band-Aid solution…. Now, WAN mangers are planning to do WAN optimization in their networks from Day 1, because customers know they will be doing shared networks.”

Creating shared networks for a distributed workforce is just one of the trends making WOCs a regular component of network infrastructure. While more remote employees are joining the workforce, resources are becoming centralized. In order to increase the speed of data between centralized data centers and remote offices/employees, Robin Gariess of Nemertes Research explains that WAN managers must evaluate WAN optimization tools, in her tip How remote users change WAN connection and bandwidth requirements.

Bandwidth, too, is another reason (and an age old reason) why enterprises will want to walk the way of the WOC. According to Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for WAN Optimization Controllers (authored by Severine Real, Andy Rolfe and Joe Skorupa):

People need WOCs to optimize response times of critical apps and to reduce costs, given that bandwidth continues to represent a significant portion of operating expenditure for wide-area data networks…. But the cost of bandwidth isn’t the only consideration–matching the allocation of WAN resources to business needs is also important.

Today, a combination of different traffic types and IT architectures have created the difficulties that WOCs can potentially alleviate. Ever hear from your users that response times are too slow? Outside of time-sensitive traffic like VoIP and video, Gartner says even traffic like “email, backups and personal Web access can swamp WAN links.”

Gartner also reported that WOCs are now not only able to optimize traffic between every connection (from headquarter to branch offices; headquarter to mobile devices; and between data centers), but that WOCs are changing form: Branch office boxes are evolving under new network needs and virtual WOCs are optimizing branches as well as cloud environments.

WOC vendors are also emphasizing and incorporating security with their products as well as better and more-integrated reporting and monitoring–which are all steps in the right direction. In the words of TRAC Research founder Bojan Simic new WAN optimization solutions need application visibility and control.

When payback is often less than a year (according to Eric Siegel’s WAN optimization market update), why wouldn’t a large enterprise want to consider a WOC?*

*(OK, you might want to consider a less-serious and asymmetric WAN optimization solution — namely, an application delivery controller. If that’s the case, check out The Network Hub’s Magic Quadrant for application delivery controllers commentary from Shamus McGillicuddy.)

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  • Garretsonr
    Clearly, WOCs play an important part in providing adequate response times for critical applications, but they are only a piece of the total, end-to-end optimization and monitoring needed all the way from the back-end data center to the end-user (who, particularly in cloud environments, maybe accessing those apps from among a myriad of browsers and mobile devices). I wonder if the Gartner analysis looked at how well these tools integrate with the other pieces in a complete APM (application performance management) system, like the ones they evaluated in this [A href=""]Magic Quadrant[/A].
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