The influx of public cloud services into the enterprise is forcing changes in the WAN optimization market.
Traditional WAN optimization was designed to deliver traffic from the branch office to the home office, Andrew Lerner, a research director at Gartner, said in an interview. That's no longer fully sufficient, since organizations are increasingly using public cloud services like SaaS and IaaS, which don't reside within corporate data centers.
Silver Peak unveiled its approach to the problem on Wednesday. The Unity WAN fabric is designed to bring together an enterprise network with public cloud services and monitor cloud traffic in order to route it over the least congested or most available path.
Unity has three pieces: Unity instances (Silver Peak software version 7), Silver Peak's new cloud intelligence service, and the vendor's global management system. David Hughes, Silver Peak's founder and CEO, told Network Computing the instances, installed in data centers, at branch offices, and at various points in the cloud, form an SDN-based WAN overlay.
Though cloud services bring a lot of efficiency gains, they also reduce IT's control and ability to monitor what's going on, Hughes said. "So if a SaaS service isn't working, it's hard for IT to know what to do."
Silver Peak says the Unity intelligence subscription service, which provides information about cloud services and Internet conditions to the instances, creates a "weather map" to help direct routing decisions.
Gartner's Lerner said the cloud intelligence component of Unity makes it unique. By taking measurements of the relative "network health" of the Internet at certain points, such as SaaS providers, and injecting that intelligence into its path selection engine, Unity allows users to bypass Internet trouble spots, which has been difficult to do with traditional IP routing-based techniques.
Other vendors are taking different approaches to dealing with the growth of public cloud services in the enterprise, Lerner said. For example, Riverbed has integrated its WAN optimization technology with Microsoft Office 365 and Salesforce.com. Cisco, which embedded WAN optimization capabilities into its router technology, has partnered with Akamai to extend acceleration technology into its router platform.
Several startups, including CloudGenix with its software-defined enterprise WAN, also are trying to solve the enterprise problem of getting users to their cloud services in a cost-effective way, he said. Glue Networks, another startup in the space, offers a suite of networking applications for software-defined WANs.
At the same time, there's a blurring of technologies in the WAN optimization space, with traditional WAN optimization vendors adding path selection and VPN capabilities to their products and carriers like Aryaka embedding WAN opt capabilities into their services.
"WAN opt vendors need to embrace the movement of critical workloads to the cloud and the blurring of technologies that is occurring," Lerner said.
Silver Peak's Hughes said he sees cloud services becoming more important than applications hosted in the enterprise. Unity aims to give enterprises the ability to treat third-party services as if they're sites within their networks.
Currently, the Unity fabric supports Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, VMware's vCloud, and more than 30 SaaS applications, including Office 365, NetSuite, Salesforce.com, and Dropbox.
The Unity Cloud Intelligence service costs $5,000 per year. Silver Peak software instances start at $551 per year. The Silver Peak Global Management System starts at $2,764 per year.