WAN Optimizers Lap Up Laptops

Blue Coat adds laptops to WAN optimization story with Riverbed and Juniper in pursuit

April 10, 2007

4 Min Read
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Could WAN optimization hold the key to surviving acts of God and avian flu? The technology, typically associated with data centers and remote offices, has vendors scrambling to add laptops to the mix in an attempt to boost their disaster recovery stories.

Today, for example, Blue Coat unveiled a software client for laptops, which it claims can extend features such as HTTP, CIFS, and TCP optimization out to road warriors and remote workers. (See Blue Coat Intros Software and WAN Optimization Gone Wild.) Gartner analyst Joe Skorupa predicts that we will see "a ton" of these laptop technologies coming onto the market over the next few years. "It's tough to find a large enterprise that doesn't have more people working from home and people moving around," he says.

The analyst explains that threats such as avian flu and general disaster recovery planning are forcing many firms to rethink their strategies for remote workers. (See Pandemic Plans Pan Out, Biz Continuity Goes Back to Basics, and Users Talk Power Pains.) "What if you have 300 or so people in Denver, and you have a snowstorm, and they can't make it into the office?" he asks.

Essentially, the Blue Coat client is a software version of the vendor's SG appliance, which is installed on laptops. (See Blue Coat Announces Growth and BlueCoat Adds Security .) The vendor has already slashed the access time for a 10-Mbyte PowerPoint from 104 seconds to 3 seconds during in-house tests, although Blue Coat was unable to offer up any beta customers dabbling with the technology.

Blue Coat is not the first mover in this space. Earlier this year, for example, Packeteer incorporated its Mobiliti client (a file acceleration tool formerly from Tacit) in the same software package with its SkyX offering, which boosts TCP/IP applications. (See WAN Optimization Inches On, Packeteer Integrates SkyX, Mobiliti, and Packeteer Picks Tacit.)Other WAN optimization vendors are rushing into the laptop space. "It's definitely on our roadmap and it will be out in the second half of this year," says Alan Saldich, vice president of product marketing at Riverbed.

Juniper spokesman Roger Fortier told Byte and Switch that the technology is on his firm's roadmap, but he would not reveal timeframes. (See Juniper Outlines Strategy.)

Blue Coat is also looking to add additional protocols to its laptop client later this year. Chris King, the vendor's director of strategic marketing, did not divulge specifics, although the firm has recently focused its attention on video applications. (See Blue Coat Optimizes Video.)

Although the likes of Riverbed have been grabbing the WAN optimization headlines over recent months, Gartner's Skorupa says that a recently acquired Massachusetts startup, Intelligent Compression Technologies (ICT), currently leads the way in terms of laptop client features. (See Riverbed Steps on SSL Gas, Orange, Riverbed Sign, and HP, Riverbed Strike Deal.)

The vendor, which was bought by satellite specialist ViaSat earlier this year, possesses the broadest set of protocols, according to the analyst. These include MAPI and HTTP/S, as well as CIFS and HTTP, he says.Certainly, users are focusing their attention on WAN links at the moment, and seem set to increase their spending on mobile technology. (See Users Rally Round Remote Solutions, Portable Problems Prompt IT Spending, and The Portable Puzzle.)

Despite this flurry of activity, at least one WAN optimization vendor told Byte and Switch that laptop clients aren't its top priority. "Our primary focus now is on scaling up rather than scaling down," says Jeff Aaron, director of product marketing at Silver Peak. (See Silver Peak Accelerates Search, Silver Peak Does a Double-Take, and Silver Peak Pockets $17M.)

Blue Coat unveiled other upgrades to its SG software today, including reporting enhancements and better integration with NetFlow, a Cisco technology for recording and managing network traffic.

Pricing for the vendor's laptop client, which will be available within the next week, starts at around $20 per user.

James Rogers, Senior Editor Byte and Switch

  • Blue Coat Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: BCSI)

  • Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO)

  • Gartner Inc.

  • Juniper Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: JNPR)

  • Packeteer Inc. (Nasdaq: PKTR)

  • Riverbed Technology Inc. (Nasdaq: RVBD)

  • Silver Peak Systems Inc.0

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