15 WAN Optimization Players VARs Should Know12:00 PM EST Thu. Aug. 25, 2011
It's clear the WAN optimization market is no longer a niche play. According to Gartner, WAN optimization is expected to grow from the $700 million market it was in 2006 to a $1.9 billion market in 2011, with projections of tenfold growth over the next five years as cloud-based WAN optimization and acceleration come to the fore.
WAN op has its established titans, but also a host of smaller and startup vendors looking to get a piece of the lucrative WAN optimization and acceleration channel with cloud- and virtualization-focused technology and aggressive channel incentives. It can be tough to keep track of all the most important players, so here is a group of 15 -- many established, some emerging -- that solution providers should pay attention to.
Riverbed is the space's marquee vendor, offering WAN optimization and acceleration capabilities via its popular Steelhead appliances: hardware-based Steelhead installations, Virtual Steelhead, Cloud Steelhead and a Steelhead Mobile client software version. While WAN op capabilities remain the heart of Riverbed's channel play, the company has continued to expand into adjacent data center technologies, including into cloud storage with its Whitewater products, and into application delivery and Web content optimization with its recent acquisitions of Zeus Technology and Aptimize.
Much of Cisco's WAN optimization strategy is concentrated in its Wide Area Application Services (WAAS) software, which can run on a number of Cisco appliances and various modules for Cisco's Integrated Services Routers (ISR), as well as in a WAAS mobile software client. Cisco partners have been driving WAAS particularly in branch offices requiring rich media-intensive networking functions, like video conferencing.
Citrix's WAN optimization breadth is its Branch Repeater products, formerly known as WANScaler. Branch Repeater is available in either a physical or virtual appliance and provides application acceleration to branch offices. The various offerings include Branch Repeater, Branch Repeater with Windows Server, Repeater, Branch Repeater VPX and Repeater Plug-iN for Citrix Receiver, along with an AutoOptimizer engine for managing various acceleration needs in enterprises.
Silver Peak offers WAN optimization through its NX appliances and VX virtual appliances, including different levels of optimization for UDP and TCP with a broad range of appliances intended for large data centers, small branch offices and various settings in between those two sizes. Silver Peak in mid-July launched Virtual Acceleration Open Architecture (VXOA), which broadens the WAN optimization software used in all of Silver Peak's main product lines by making available a software development kit (SDK), an API and a number of new pricing options -- all with the idea of making Silver Peak products better compatible with third-party servers, blades, storage arrays and network routers. VXOA comes available as subscription-based, pay-as-you-go licensing.
Blue Coat as a company is in transition; it recently parted ways with CEO Mike Borman and has seen a substantial decline in sales and profits. But its place in the WAN optimization market can't be questioned: WAN op appliance software, MACH5, that runs on various Blue Coat appliances, and content-aware application performance software in PacketShaper, which it acquired with its 2008 pickup of Packeteer, plus the ability to combine those tools with various security functions.
Rather than challenge the WAN optimization heavyweights in the large enterprise, Exinda Networks has focused much of its attention on WAN optimization sales through channel partners in the midmarket. Its channel program, now three years old its x700 line of WAN optimization tools, Service Delivery Point, a SaaS-based management tool for reporting on WAN appliances, and traffic shaping tools as part of its ExOS software platform. ExOS's latest release, version 6.1, includes the Exinda Edge Cache, broadened optimization scalability, and support for IPv6.
Ipanema's WAN optimization strategy focuses on managed services, and it offers WAN optimization capabilities trough its IpIEngine appliances sold through MSP partners like BT, Orange Business Services and KDDI. Based in Paris, Ipanema only recently began an aggressive push into U.S. and Asia/Pacific markets beyond its European base of customers.
Certeon's software-based aCelera line of WAN optimization technology is both hardware-agnostic and hypervisor-agnostic, which according to the company makes it the ideal WAN optimization embed for customers shifting to virtualization-heavy environments and not wanting to be tied to specific hardware appliances. Certeon has also been aggressively courting the WAN optimization channel with a new partner program promising at least 20 percent margins on qualified sales of aCelera.
A new challenger to the WAN space, Aryaka was founded in 2008 and emerged from stealth mode earlier this year, pledging a WAN optimization as-a-service platform it says will help partners sell WAN optimization ideal for cloud computing environments. Aryaka, which copped a $15 million Series B funding round in June, claims to offer 20 millisecond latency for 90 percent of the world's users of business Internet, using various techniques, from proxy servers to redundancy removal, over its own private network to power a global, SaaS-based WAN optimization platform.
Juniper's market share in WAN optimization controllers has continued to decline, but the company still has a play behind its WXC ISM 200 modules for J-series routers, as well as a software-based WAN optimization/acceleration option in its WX client intended for mobile users and small office users.
F5 is much better known for its application delivery controller products, but it offers WAN optimization as part of its overall Traffic Management Operating System (TMOS) architecture -- the guts of its BIG-IP application delivery platforms. In addition to the WAN Optimization Manager (WOM) module, F5 also provides some optimization and acceleration features as part of WebAccelerator, which is also a module available for the BIG-IP products.
Circadence offers a mix of capabilities via its MVO 1200 WAN optimization suite, including an appliance, a virtual appliance, a cloud service, an appliance designed specifically for small office/home office environments and a mobile clinet, as well as an API. Focused primarily on the North America market, one of Circadence's most recent launches was a WAN optimization offering specific to Google Android-base devices -- something Circadence is calling the first time dedicated WAN optimization technology can be applied specifically smartphones or tablet devices.
San Jose, Calif.-based Infineta is also a WAN optimization up-and-comer, and in June 2011 closed a $15 million Series B funding round. Infineta's focus is WAN optimization systems that can accelerate inter-data center WANs running at up to 10 Gbps wire speeds. The company's big summer launch was the Infineta Data Mobility Switch, which according to Infineta provides, at that 10 Gbps speed, bandwidth capacity gains of as much as 10x, IP traffic acceleration and application prioritization and assurance over multi-gigabit WAN links.
Expand Networks was founded in 1998 and has been a WAN optimization staple for the past decade, with both appliance-based and virtualized acceleration options available through reseller partners targeting primarily branch office deployments. Among its big focuses is WAN optimization sold through managed services partners using pay-as-you-go subscription models and embedded Expand technology.
Fastsoft, based in Pasadena, Calif. and launched in 2006, was formed to commercialize a network optimization technology called FastTCP that was developed at the California Institute of Technology. Fastsoft's offering includes Origin Content Acceleration (OCA) software for speeding dynamic page downloads by as much as 150 percent. It's a server-side technology, installed only the data center and not requiring any desktop downloads or maintenance, and can accelerate all TCP connections in a private cloud, including, according to Fastsoft, both cache-able and non-cache-able objects. Solution providers focused on Fastsoft often employ it for customers requiring specific network optimization for faster Internet and file downloads.
Talari Networks doesn't describe itself as a WAN optimization or WAN acceleration vendor, because it positions its products as complementary to many existing WAN optimization deployments businesses already have. Talari's Adaptive Private Networking (APN) products work similarly to how Redundant Array of Independent Disks (RAID) technology is used in storage, leveraging RAID-like techniques, overlay networking and various algorithms to pull together multiple IP bandwidth sources to WAN connections, including DSL, cable and broadband. Earlier this year, Talari added an APN appliance intended for midmarket customers, and recently confirmed a new CEO, Emerick Woods.