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In an April report, Gartner said the overall size of the WAN op market will grow tenfold over the next five years as cloud-based WAN optimization and acceleration come to the fore, and vendors push WAN op platforms that aren't tied to hardware appliances.
"Vendors are developing innovative approaches that make the deployment of cloud-based communications and networking services more secure, reliable and efficient," Gartner wrote. "Organizations with globally distributed locations should consider WAN optimization services to eliminate the need for distributed WAN optimization appliances."
One of the startup companies looking to catch that wave is Aryaka, a Milpitas, Calif.-based WAN op vendor that bagged $15 million in Series B funding in June. Founded in 2008 by several Speedera and Akamai alumni, Aryaka's hook is that it uses proxy servers, redundancy removal and other techniques over its own private network to power a WAN optimization service managed by 25 globally distributed points of presence.
According to Aryaka, its WAN optimization platform can offer less than 20 millisecond latency for 90 percent of the world's business Internet users, and it has begun opening up the platform for sale, as a cloud-based service, through VARs, referral agents, service provider and IaaS providers, as well as other vendors.
"The market penetration for WAN optimization is only about 5 percent -- only about 300,000 boxes," said Ajit Gupta, Aryaka's founder and CEO, in a June interview with CRN. "We want to work with people who can see the future and who we don't have to convince this is the way to sell WAN optimization."
As cloud computing and mobility shift the paradigms in IT, solution providers will need to position WAN optimization in terms of not only cost-savings, but also flexibility, VARs say.
"I don't think people realize how much it can touch so many different things," Pluto Networks' Chaffin said. "We aren't yet seeing much WAN acceleration in handheld phones and on tablets, but think of how many different things there are that could have a client on them."
The transformation of solution providers' WAN optimization technology practices will need to respond in kind, the vendors say.
"They are building distinct practices around WAN optimization -- the demand is out there," said Riverbed's Rouda. "It's a distinct technology now, which is not the same as saying it's a commoditzed technology. It's an enabler for a lot of different types of approaches. We can help them sell more storage, or virtual machines, or access to applications. Look at it from a solutions point of view, and it's a key enabling technology."
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