Ipanema attacks the North American WAN optimization market

Ipanema Technologies is now 11 years old and mainly does business in Europe but is making a push into the United Stastes hoping to land major carriers and enterprises as customers of its WAN optimization gear.

Outside the United States, the French company has amassed an impressive list of carrier customers, among them BT, Infonet, Orange, KDDI and Tata. But it recognizes that U.S.-based businesses are ripe for picking as they shift toward WAN optimization as a service, says Gartner analyst Joe Skorupa.

Death, taxes and bandwidth growth

Some corporations will continue to buy their own optimization gear, but carrier customers will sell WAN optimization -- or WAN governance, as Ipanema calls it -- to their corporate clients, providing a network-based scheme to streamline businesses' WAN connections to the point that application performance can be guaranteed, the company says.

Just 10% to 15% of U.S. businesses that use WAN optimization buy it as a service, Skorupa says, but he expects that to jump to one-third in two years. "In five years I wouldn't be surprised to see it top 60%," he says.

All of which is good news for Ipanema, which is investing in North American marketing in hopes of catching the wave.

Two years ago, 100% of Ipanema's customers were service providers. Today the split is 60% service providers and 40% enterprises by revenue, with enterprise business coming through systems integrators, network integrators and some managed service providers.

The company is different from its competitors -- which include Blue Coat, Cisco, F5, Riverbed and Silver Peak, among others -- that sell pairs of optimization appliances that sit at either end of WAN links and perform a variety of operations to reduce the number of bits it takes to complete transactions. These operations include compression, deduplication, caching, application optimization and pre-fetching, and they're part of what Ipanama does as well.

Ipanema faces competition from service providers Aryaka and Virtela, too.

The company also performs WAN governance to closely monitor WAN traffic to each site and manage it in order to prevent any one site from failing to meet quality guidelines set for application performance.

The push into the United States is spearheaded by Reza Mahdavie, who joined the company as president in 2008 after 14 years developing international business for Cisco. In August Ipanema appointed Peter Cary (a veteran of Cisco and Avaya) as vice president and general manager for North America and David White (formerly with Expand Networks, Procket and start-ups Tasman Networks, CopperCom and Sentient Networks) as vice president of global business development.

The company plans to double its salesforce in 2011.

Ipanema's hardware (ipengines, which are embedded in the network) and software (virtual ipengines that piggyback on network devices at customer sites) keep track of not only what traffic they are sending to a particular site, but also what other sites are sending to that site.

With that knowledge, updated every second or so, each Ipanema device adjusts the rate at which it sends traffic to each site in accordance with set policies. The result is that all devices sending traffic to the same site work together to optimize transmission of the particular mix of applications being received at that time, says David White, vice president of global business development for the company.

"They do a nice job of mulit-point-to-point quality of service," Skorupa says. "They never let more traffic be sent than the site can handle." This feature will become increasingly important as businesses adopt collaboration and unified communications, both of which call for multiple participants at separate sites to share voice, video and data with each other, Skorupa says

The service can also be deployed without placing an ipengine at every site. If the bulk of traffic goes to branches, the goal is to prevent overrunning the access links. The service optimizes globally and won't deliver traffic that impairs the user experience for priority traffic.

Another capability that the company employs is called hybrid network unification, which is the intelligent use of multiple WAN options so the most appropriate link is used for each traffic type. So Ipanema gear might pick the fastest network for real-time traffic like video and voice but pick the one with highest bandwidth for massive file transfers.

Blended into the equation is the importance customers assign to each application flow, so the most important get the best QoS, and less important ones get the best possible. Another factor is the network characteristics that traffic flows require -- bandwidth, delay, jitter, packet loss and the like.

The goal is for businesses' disparate networks to act as a single, unified network with an overarching performance scheme in place.

Ipanema's so-called Autonomic Networking System can automate network optimization and give 100% visibility of traffic; provide QoS and controls; and support application-layer traffic management to give the best user experience given the network conditions and the contention of other traffic. As conditions change, ANS adjusts its controls to insure optimal application performance, the company says.

Ipanema has a service-building platform for carriers that scales to 100,000 customers for services including traffic visibility, optimization and acceleration.

Just this week, the company announced client software for individual Windows-based computers that enables them to peer with all other Ipanema devices on a network and support all of Ipanema's optimization functions.

Read more about lan and wan in Network World's LAN & WAN section.

This story, "Ipanema attacks the North American WAN optimization market" was originally published by NetworkWorld.

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