Gartner identified three ways WAN optimization is being bundled with other applications in order to address the broader needs of the branch office. Early efforts by Cisco and Riverbed allowed organizations to reduce the number of appliances in remote offices offering common services such as DHCP, DNS, Active Directory and print serving to just one. Cisco and Juniper are bundling WAN optimization capabilities inside of their routers, as well, but these router-optimizers tend to be "lightweight versions, without extensive deduplication or higher-layer protocol acceleration," writes Gartner.
The Gartner report also identifies consolidation happening between enterprise content delivery networks (ECDNs) and WAN optimizers. ECDNs offer the ability to deliver live and on-demand streaming of media content, by splitting unicast streams and by pre-positioning content in the cache. This increases the scalability of media servers and helps to improve the response times for semi-static content, such as business procedures and software upgrades.
As for functionality, security is hot. There is an increasing focus on security, including the acceleration of encrypted protocols such as Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS) and the security of data stored on WAN optimizers. At the same time, as basic acceleration capabilities mature, Gartner says there is a resurgence of interest in visibility and control, both as a means to demonstrate WAN optimizer effectiveness and as a bandwidth/response-time planning tool. Providing application and user performance measurement and SLA reporting are key emerging requirements for WAN optimizers.