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Network Visibility The Key to WAN Optimization

The network monitoring and analysis tool vendor Narus uses the ad catch phrase, “You can’t manage and protect what you can’t see.” While it’s maybe not up there with “Just do it,” it does get to the essence of what network monitoring and WAN (wide area network) optimization are all about.

The network monitoring and analysis tool vendor Narus uses the ad catch phrase, “You can’t manage and protect what you can’t see.” While it’s maybe not up there with “Just do it,” it does get to the essence of what network monitoring and WAN (wide area network) optimization are all about.

If you’re going to be able to improve the performance of your WAN, and help it meet all the demands placed on it by cloud computing, video streaming, mobility and the like, you’ve got to first get a clear view of exactly what’s going on. In this first of a three-part series on WAN optimization, Network Computing looks at some of the network visibility tools that enterprises should consider deploying. In later segments, we’ll look at security issues and application performance management and their importance.

The WAN optimization market is expected to grow almost 60% over the next five years, with sales predicted to reach $1.65 billion in 2016, from $1.05 billion in 2011. In addition to reducing latency on network traffic, primarily in the connection between data centers and branch offices, another smaller part of the WAN optimization controller (WOC) market is data center-to-data center connections, sometimes between different countries, says Dell'Oro Group, the networking research firm that came up with the market research.

“There are a number of ways to tackle the problem” of network visibility, says Zeus Kerravala, principal analyst at ZK Research. “The important thing to understand is that it needs to be tackled.”

Visibility is the first step network administrators need to take to optimize the network, and the applications and traffic that run on it. Visibility provides quicker troubleshooting of network problems, and quicker identification of security threats. Visibility tools also monitor application performance for compliance with quality of service (QoS) requirements, and are helpful in capacity planning.

There are a number of vendors on the market that offer network visibility capability in one way or other, Kerravala said, including Blue Coat Systems and Riverbed Technology, which offer visibility along with many other WAN optimization tools. Blue Coat, which was taken private in a deal that closed Feb. 15, was also reorganized to go after just two markets: Web security and WAN optimization. Both of these companies earned a spot in the Leaders Quadrant ranking of vendors in the WAN optimization space in a January Gartner report.

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