WAN Optimization Forges On

Cisco claim big growth - as do Riverbed, Packeteer, Blue Coat, and others

June 29, 2007

3 Min Read
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Another quarter, another look at WAN optimization. While many IT pros still don't have WAN optimizers, these products show every sign of spreading in multisite networks. (See WAN Optimization Inches On.)

One sign is that competition is getting fiercer.

Cisco, for instance, upped the ante against rivals like Riverbed, Packeteer, Juniper, Expand, and Blue Coat (to name just a few), by announcing today the 1000th customer for its Wide Area Application Services (WAAS). (See Cisco Widens WAN Optimization.)

Cisco's statement is a jab at Riverbed, which announced its 2,000th customer in April 2007 -- 300 percent over the 500 customers the supplier announced in January 2006. (See Riverbed Gets 2000 Customers.)

Cisco's solution, offered as both an appliance and a card for Cisco's ISR routers, has shipped in its present form since September 2006. (See Cisco Intros Services and Cisco Backs Into Optimization.) But Cisco says it added 100 customers in April 2007 alone.According analyst firm Gartner, Cisco ranks second only to Riverbed in revenue for WAN optimization controllers. Gartner's figures for the first quarter 2007 (published this month) show Cisco with $27.8 million in revenue from its WAN optimization wares, compared with Riverbed's $22.6 million, Packeteer's $24.7 million, Blue Coat's $16.2 million, and Juniper's $12 million.

Gartner puts the entire market for the first quarter 2007 at $156.3 million -- tiny potatoes compared with the billions spent on disk storage systems, for example. (See IDC Sizes Up Disk Storage.)

And Gartner's first-quarter figures indicate that every major player but Riverbed and Cisco suffered double-digit sequential revenue declines: Packeteer was down more than 25 percent, Blue Coat 19 percent, and Juniper more than 15 percent.

Eric Wolford, Riverbed's SVP of marketing and business development, says the market's young but growing. "It's still early in the game and the future is still much larger than the past," he says. He estimates that of 6 to 7 million remote offices worldwide, penetration of WAN optimizers is in the "low single digits." But he characterizes growth as "fast."

Another analyst firm, Infonetics Research, reported that the WAN optimization market dropped 4 percent in international revenues to $106 million in the first quarter of 2007. (See WAN Optimization Heats Up.) That figure does not include Cisco, since that vendor does not supply specific figures, according to Infonetics. But the market total was nonetheless up 61 percent from a year ago. And by 2010, Infonetics predicts the market will reach $652 million. In 2006, it was $333 million, Infonetics states.As customers invest in WAN optimization, features and functions are getting more uniform across products. According to Infonetics analyst Matthias Machowinski, features like protocol optimization, caching of applications, bandwidth management, and compression, are fairly common across products from all suppliers. Less common is support for laptops and unconnected remote sites -- something that Citrix and Blue Coat offer in their optimizers, and which Riverbed has promised in a software client this summer. (See Citrix Busts Mobile Move and WAN Optimizers Lap Up Laptops.)

There are indications that plenty more products and even companies are on the way. While WAN optimization progress is uneven, its momentum is unmistakable.

Mary Jander, Site Editor, Byte and Switch

  • Blue Coat Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: BCSI)

  • Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO)

  • Expand Networks Inc.

  • Gartner Inc.

  • Infonetics Research Inc.

  • Juniper Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: JNPR)

  • Packeteer Inc. (Nasdaq: PKTR)

  • Riverbed Technology Inc.

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