We recently received a copy of a Netex-commissioned white paper called "The Death of the WAN Optimization Hardware Appliance: R.I.P." The paper, by a firm curiously named Dragon Slayer Consulting, predicts that WAN optimization hardware will soon be as obsolete as the buggy whip because virtualized server appliances will render it moot. We believe this prediction is wrong. Here's why.
WAN optimization is unlike other functions that can chug along just as well in a virtual as in an actual appliance. Successful virtualization is predicated upon the assumption that the software running on the virtual appliance will consume a fraction of the allotted processing power. A mix of applications accessed by a mix of users creates a wide range of CPU utilizations, with low average utilization. Virtualization leverages the low average and wide distribution to run the same processes in few machines. However, the efficiency benefit must be significant enough to outweigh virtualization's overhead tax. Therefore successful virtualization needs an appropriate mix of applications.