"That seems to be where the industry's going," Tinsley says. "Obviously, the physical appliances don't go away. We still have a lot of customers who prefer physical appliances, especially for the very large data center locations, but in many cases customers find virtual versions of these products more cost-effective."
Silver Peak is betting quite heavily on further growth of this trend, as Tinsley says virtual WAN optimization tools will account for 50% of the company's offerings by the end of 2013.
That bet may be a safe one, says Joe Skorupa, a research vice president at Gartner, where he is part of the Data Center Transformation and Security Research unit. Although some competitors have potential to take a similar approach, such as the market leading Riverbed, whose acquisition of Zeus last summer may enable it to offer a similar solution, Skorupa says Silver Peak will gain valuable attention for breaking the mold.
"I think Silver Peak will have an advantage here for some period of time," Skorupa says. "It's always valuable for a smaller, less-visible company to show up with a thought-leading way of doing something. So it will get attention, and it will get people considering them that may not have considered them in the past."
However, Silver Peak will not remain out in front for long, Skorupa says, as the hype around its new virtual marketplace may prompt others to attempt to catch up quickly.
"If Silver Peak sees significant success, if people start asking their competitors where their downloadable version is, I have no doubt the competition will follow," Skorupa says.
The advantage afforded through the virtual marketplace will only boost an already rapidly growing company. Silver Peak's renewed focus on WAN optimization is what differentiated itself enough to earn it a spot in Gartner's Leaders Quadrant for the WANOpt market last month, alongside Riverbed and Cisco.
With some success in its latest initiative further pushing it along, Silver Peak could very likely disrupt a market that Cindy Borovick, IDC program vice president for Enterprise Data Center Networks, says is poised for a shakeup.