January 19, 2012, 12:26 PM — WAN optimization is shaping up to be one of the hottest areas of the network equipment market, prompting industry experts to predict high-profile acquisitions and vendor shakeups in the near future.
According to IDC, the overall network equipment market will grow 8.7% this year to reach $39.4 billion. Of this growth, the WAN application delivery sector will be one of the strongest drivers, according to IDC, and will reach $1.3 billion by the end of the year.
According to Cindy Borovick, IDC program vice president for Enterprise Data Center Networks, this is because the "piecemeal" approach to WAN optimization has reached a tipping point for many companies.
For the past few years, businesses have optimized applications for the WAN on an as-needed basis, Borovick says.
"It's our belief that a significant number of customers have really taken an ad hoc approach to the WAN, almost, if you will, accidental architectures -- choosing what applications need to be supported by the WAN and supporting them individually, rather than optimizing the entire infrastructure for the WAN," she says.
Other researchers have seen similar network management practices during the past few years. Daniel Kennedy, research director for information security at TheInfoPro, likened the trend to a carpenter using a hammer to knock in individual nails. By now, network managers have had to address so many of these issues that WAN optimization is starting to make sense as a networkwide option.
"Let's say an application's performance over a geographic expanse is less than ideal between a remote office and the primary data center," Kennedy says. "The network manager, looking to solve that problem, asks around and evaluates a WAN optimization product to solve this point issue. When that project is successful, that network manager now has a hammer he's comfortable with, and starts seeking out nails, leading to more implementations and greater networkwide rollouts."