In its just-released Magic Quadrant for WAN Optimization Controllers (WOCS), Gartner looks at the current state of the WAN optimization market. This Gartner magic quadrant shows a picture of a mature market that is adapting to customer demands, with an increased focus on cloud and data center-to-data center deployments, the consolidation of branch office hardware and increased support for mobile users.
We also found these trends in our InformationWeek Analytics 2010 WAN Optimization research [registration required]. Today, more data is being transported over the WAN among remote offices as well as remote workers. WAN optimization makes the most of existing bandwidth by using compression and data deduplication. WAN optimizers also reduce performance problems inherent in chatty network and application protocols.
WAN optimization products are now being evaluated less from the perspective of optimizing file transfers between branch offices and the data center. Organizations that undertake IT initiatives such as cloud computing, virtual desktop integration (VDI) and business continuity need their WAN optimizers to scale in terms of sheer bits per second and simultaneous sessions, while being able to support a far greater range of applications. Gartner has identified three leaders in data center WAN optimization: Silver Peak, Riverbed and F5.
Products for mobile optimization are gaining attention, as well, due to changing demands from the increasingly mobile workforce. Today, users could be in a coffee shop or in a remote office and they still expect snappy application performance. Smartphones and tablets used by mobile workers are bringing in a new set of problems that IT needs to address.
A number of mobile WAN optimization products are available today, including Circadence (which supports WindowsCE, Windows Mobile and Android devices); Cisco, with its Wide Area Application Services (WAAS) Mobile software client; and Riverbed, with its Steelhead Mobile client. As mobile devices become more powerful and are more broadly used, we should expect to see more support from WAN optimization vendors.