The main difference between the symmetric and asymmetric deployment of WAN optimization solutions involves the environment in which they are deployed. Symmetric optimization, as described in this F5 whitepaper, is deployed across two codependent devices in two different locations, such as the data centers where Riverbed's products are commonly found. Asymmetric deployment of WAN optimization is delivered from a centrally located device and focuses on performance at the user or application level.
Murphy says an important factor of this new step into the asymmetric acceleration market is integrating security features into its WAN optimization tools. With security as a differentiator in its asymmetric WAN optimization products, Blue Coat can capitalize on a window of opportunity that will remain open for "at least six to 12 months, if not longer than that."
Corbo believes the security push will be a successful differentiator for Blue Coat in the WAN optimization market, primarily because any other approach would simply fall flat against powerful market incumbents.
"Their approach from the security side is a better, stronger play for them rather than trying to go head-to-head in Riverbed's game," Corbo says. "That's really a difficult play for anybody, just in terms of the way Riverbed has cemented their position there."
According to a 2011 market study conducted by TheInfoPro, Blue Coat sits behind Silver Peak, Cisco and Riverbed in the WAN optimization market. Daniel Kennedy, the firm's research director for Information Security, says "something macro would have to happen to upset this balance going into 2013."
Blue Coat's new strategy is one of many developments to take shape in the WAN optimization market in 2012. Riverbed has announced a partnership with Akamai to help improve application performance for its Steelhead WAN optimization customers, while Silver Peak has released free, downloadable trial versions of its own products.
As IDC predicted earlier this year, the WAN optimization market is experiencing some significant changes as revenue comes pouring in. By the end of this year, the WAN application delivery sector will reach $1.3 billion in revenues, helping to drive 8.7% overall growth in the network equipment market, IDC says.