Users don't want WAN optimization tools that are complex to manage

* Survey finds users want simplified WAN optimization tools

The last two newsletters discussed some of the results of a market research we recently conducted into network management in general, and WAN and application optimization techniques in particular. This newsletter will discuss the difficulty associated with implementing and managing WAN and application optimization products. We polled 234 IT professionals for the survey.

The last two newsletters discussed some of the results of a market research we recently conducted into network management in general, and WAN and application optimization techniques in particular. This newsletter will discuss the difficulty associated with implementing and managing WAN and application optimization products. We polled 234 IT professionals for the survey.

According to the survey respondents, the implementation and ongoing management of WAN and application optimization products each contribute approximately as much to the total cost of ownership (TCO) as does the initial product cost.  Because of that, lowering the TCO is one of several factors driving the survey respondents to seek out WAN and application optimization products that are simpler to implement and manage.

An architect at a major motion picture company provided an equally compelling factor driving the desire for simpler products. He stated that his organization is looking for "something that you just plug in and it works." He added, "The whole idea of an appliance is to make the average IT guy more productive. It is not there to tie up an expert."

An architect at a high-tech company discussed some of the complexity associated with WAN and application optimization products as well as some of the ramifications of that complexity. He stated that, "Deploying WAN application optimization products makes the operations group nervous, and so they resist deploying these products. They are nervous because the new product may cause problems and because the new product may make it difficult to troubleshoot a problem."

Another negative aspect of the complexity of some WAN and application optimization products is that roughly 40% of the survey respondents indicated their organization had experienced a surprising side effect, such as having to reconfigure a firewall, while implementing one of these products. The architect at the high-tech company stated that when you deploy one of these products and say, "Just optimize these three applications," the products "better be able to do just that." He raised this concern because there was a failure in his network a few weeks ago due to a surprising side effect of implementing a WAN application optimization product. The product was not supposed to touch any other applications but when the company turned on acceleration for a particular application not only did the product touch several other applications, it also caused them to fail. 

The last three newsletters have demonstrated that there are some fundamental shifts underway in terms of how WAN application and optimization techniques are selected and deployed. One shift is that the majority of companies are now deploying WAN application optimization products as part of a broad, well thought out strategy, and not just in response to user complaints and poor performance on one or two WAN links. Another shift is that many IT organizations are now placing much greater emphasis on choosing a product that can be implemented in a transparent fashion and efficiently managed on a broad scale. 

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