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Data Centers: The Next Frontier For WAN Optimizers?

Signs of the increasingly pivotal role that WAN optimization is playing in the enterprise can be seen in the emergence of hybrid cloud architectures within corporate networks. As Mike so poignantly pointed out in his blog, the simple ability to run a VM does not make an application ready for the cloud. If developers are to leverage on-demand services, such as Amazon's EC2, they need to rethink how they architect their software to leverage a hybrid cloud environment.

Business continuity requires ever-increasing amounts of data to be replicated at off-site locations via the WAN. Data center consolidation initiatives may require retaining regional operations, requiring accelerated links between facilities. Virtualized infrastructure is needed if VMs are to be moved between data centers, and virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) is highly susceptible to latency and packet loss and requires optimized links throughout the network.

Gartner recommends using three companies for data center-to-data center connectivity: Silver Peak, Riverbed and F5. F5 offers a "very-high-throughput device", writes Gartner, for data center-to-data center links, as well as a wide range of accelerations for data center replication and storage protocols. Riverbed has broad capabilities, including features for large branch networks, data center replication and storage networking applications and single remote users. It offers "good" performance at the high end. Silver Peak maintains a strong focus on storage replication, backed up by "segment leading" products and good strategic alliances with data center infrastructure companies.

The cloud will play an ever-growing role in the way architects develop their data center strategy, but its fate will be heavily influenced by the performance of the underlying network. Look for data center-centric WAN optimizers to be essential complements to cloud initiatives for the foreseeable future.

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