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Cisco Prowling WAN Optimization?

Now that Juniper Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: JNPR) has coughed up nearly half a billion dollars for WAN optimization player Peribit Networks Inc. and traffic management vendor Redline Networks Inc., the startup world is abuzz with the potential for a response from Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO).

WAN optimization and traffic management technology were together seen as something of a niche market, prior to Juniper's deals (see Juniper Takes Two: Peribit & Redline). Now they appear to be the focus of every investment banker between Menlo Park and Manhattan (see Peribit Deal: More to Come).

In fact, according to most sources in the space, one would think it's a foregone conclusion: Many informed onlookers consider it inevitable that Cisco is going to pull the trigger on at least a WAN optimization company -- and possibly a traffic management company as well.

The reasoning? Many technology experts see the application delivery and management space as heating up, and it could pose a challenge for Ciscos current product portfolio (see Zeus: A Takeover Target? ). This conclusion was being expressed by many experts in the space at last week's Interop tradeshow.

For example, Eric Klinker, vice president of engineering at service provider Internap, believes that Cisco doesn't have the right WAN optimization tool, and will likely launch a counterattack to Juniper's $337 million acquisition of Peribit. He sees the most likely candidates as Expand Networks Inc., Packeteer Inc. (Nasdaq: PKTR), and Riverbed Technology Inc., but he considers Riverbed the "thought leader."

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