For years, the WAN optimization market targeted enterprise customers. In most cases, adding WAN optimization controllers (WOCs) at branch offices cost less than adding more bandwidth. Even still, each WOC would cost anywhere from $2,500 to $15,000 — making it difficult for smaller organizations to justify the cost at every office location.
Some vendors, like Ipanema, have made strides to drive down the cost of WOCs to under $1,000 to target small and medium-sized businesses, but more organizations are looking at other WAN optimization form factors: namely, mobile and cloud optimization.
Mobile WAN optimization clients are ideal for the road warrior or the micro branch office — consisting of up to 10 employees. While a hardware WOC wouldn’t make sense, a virtual WOC doesn’t have a host server to load the software. Most laptops, fortunately, have space for a mobile client, and licenses have dropped from $70 to $30 USD, ZK Research Principal Analyst Zeus Kerravala said.
For those who don’t want hardware, virtual or even software WAN optimization, there is cloud WAN optimization. WAN optimization as a Service has gained popularity in recent years because any number of end users at virtually any location can subscribe to a provider with an optimized link — all with more flexibility and at a more favorable cost.
But neither option comes without its caveats. Nemertes Research WAN optimization expert John Burke highlights the pros and cons of mobile and cloud optimization in this article and even considers how it compares to virtual and hardware WOCs.