• 08/13/2014
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Silver Peak Extends WAN Optimization To Cloud Services

Unity WAN fabric monitors public cloud connections and makes routing decisions to streamline cloud access.

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 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,, 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.


market projection

A report by Doyle Research -- sponsored by Silver Peak -- estimates the global"Intelligent WAN" market will double from $1.6 billion this year to $3.2 billion in 2018. The report describes this market as the merging of several technologies, including WAN optimization, branch/edge routers and WAN connectivity monitoring, driven by SDN/NFV.



Re: market projection

Unity has an appealing solution that the enterprise needs and with time as traffic growths and congestion increases, the demand for such solutions will increase and by 2018, the market might very well double in size. 

A bit off-topic, but the internet works by routing data from one point to another. The solutions that manage to find the best path to route data becomes a valuable solution -- costing $5,000 per year. It is good to find an efficient path to travel but allocating a path for data is bad under Net neutrality. Even if, the allocation is being made for life saving healthcare data. I wonder which piece of the picture I am missing. Maybe, human intent (large populations, large diversities in intent) is the fear.  

Re: market projection

Brian, can you elaborate on your concern? I guess I understand net neutrality in the context of ISPs, and the potential for legal changes that would allow them charge customers for tiered services. Companies like Silver Peak are focused on the enterprise issue of access to cloud services.

Re: market projection

@Marcia, I agree, these are two separate areas. WAN optimization is concerned with avoiding internet's trouble spots and net neutrality is about not allowing economic forces to determine which traffic is expedited. WAN optimization has the potential to increase overall network utilization and no net-neutrality has the potential to decrease network utilization.

The view that I observe from some viewers is that in a worst case scenario, an ISP will block for example, Netflix traffic to the end user, until Netflix pays the ISP. However, as of 2013, video makes up 66% of internet's traffic, if Netflix (and other video providers) do not pay then, ISPs would be losing money because it would be their networks that are being underutilized and ISPs would be losing customers at a fast pace.

If Netflix and others do pay, then won't ISPs want to transport more data (more profits) from providers to end-users by developing network optimization technologies and increasing infrastructure?    

Re: market projection

Ah, OK Brian, thanks. I see your point, and it's a good one. 

It looks like the FCC extended the deadline for comments on its proposed new net neutrality rules, which would allow ISPs to sell tiered services. Hopefully the FCC comes to its senses and kills the tiered plan, but I'm not too optimistic.

Re: market projection


@ Marcia, great idea! wan optimization is an actual topic in IT domain (very important)

@ Brian, I agree with you, with the advent of IoE, cloud computing with all its services ... we will see the trafic increase and the deployment of load balancers and wan optimizer will be mandatory ( if we look at to the amount of request to the servers and  how the time to get the speciifc information must be little;

So, the trafic will be phenomenal,  then vendors of these kinds of equipments will be the bussiness easily grow

That's also a good new for IT pros in these domains; try to increase skill in load balanc & wan optim administration is not bad ( with certifications)!

Re: market projection

@Jerome, in terms of certifications, what's available for WAN optimization? 

Re: market projection

@ Marcia, there many vendors for Wan Optim products, and then decide which Certif to take is now an important question (as all these vendors are high influence into IT market).

Based on my experience, my research and the statistic of these products, go for F5 certifications or/and Riverbed certifications is good idea. What i suggest is            F5 BIG-IP certifications (well known and more requested) and try to use or master others.



Re: market projection

Thanks for sharing your recommendations Jerome. Like you say, there are a lot of WAN optimization products. And the technology is evolving; there's a lot to keep up with, so it seems like a good area to study up.

Re: market projection

Yes Marcia, i confirm!!!