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When researcher Gartner released its latest Magic Quadrant for WAN Optimization Controllers in late January, it confirmed what many solution providers already know: the WAN optimization market is becoming more closely watched than ever thanks to WAN op technology's role in data center optimization and cloud computing.
One of the vendors that stands to benefit most from that shift is Silver Peak Systems, which Gartner placed in its "Leaders" category for WAN optimization for the first time as it moved other vendors, such as Cisco, into lower categories.
Rick Tinsley, Silver Peak's CEO, sees the move as validation for Silver Peak's strategy to focus on data center-class WAN optimization and also target the growing interest in virtualized WAN optimization appliances from large enterprise customers.
"We approach WAN optimization from a different perspective," said Tinsley in a recent interview with CRN. "When we started with this strategy several years ago, we were a voice in the wilderness and Gartner really questioned our strategy then. But data center customers are leveraging virtualization and that's our value proposition to both partners and customers."
[Related: 15 WAN Optimization Players VARs Should Know]
Silver Peak was founded in 2004, and about 98 percent of its revenue now goes through indirect channel partners, Tinsley said. The company has seen the most uptake among storage-oriented channel partners and also the OEM partnerships it forged with major storage vendors such as EMC, Hitachi and Dell.
"A few years ago, none of our competitors were using WAN optimization as a way to optimize storage applications," Tinsley said. "So I think we got a pretty good uptake from those storage vendors, and their channel partners who were really strong on storage or had good storage practices. The more traditional networking resellers were a little slower to recognize our value but they've started to see Silver Peak emerge as a viable contender as WAN optimization deals become more mainstream."
Silver Peak has a full line of physical WAN optimization appliances under its NX-Series line, but its VX-Series and VRX-Series virtual appliances are gaining traction since they were introduced in 2011. About 10 percent of Silver Peak's WAN optimization product sales are virtual versions, said Tinsley, and the company expects that percentage to be as high as 50 within two years.
In its WAN optimization report, Gartner highlighted Silver Peak's leadership in data center-to-data center optimization as key to is growth, as well as its international expansion over the past year and its alliances with storage and data center infrastructure vendors.
"Use Silver Peak when data center to data center performance is critical and in branch to data center networks when UDP traffic and operation across error-prone links are important factors," Gartner advised.
Silver Peak's move to the Leaders quadrant was one of several interesting vendor shifts cited by Gartner, which also moved Cisco down into the Challengers category and dropped Juniper outright.