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Network World - After watching customers continually download and install one of the vendor's free, limited products from the company website, Silver Peak CEO Rick Tinsley was interested to see how they would respond to the same access to its more advanced products.
That idea gave birth to the Virtual WAN Optimization Marketplace, an online resource launching Tuesday where customers can download free, 30-day trial versions of Silver Peak's virtual WAN optimization tools.
BACKGROUND: New leaders emerging in WAN optimization
Although Tinsley says he expects customers with remote branch offices in international locations to jump at an opportunity to deploy software over the Internet, some of which he says "incur as much cost in shipping and physical installation as they incur purchasing the product itself," he acknowledged that the virtual marketplace will be a valuable experiment on the market's preferences for software delivery as a whole.
"Our mission is to make this WAN optimization technology available in as many different ways as possible, and let the market choose how it wishes to consume it," Tinsley says.
Part of the inspiration for the idea stems from an entirely free WAN optimization application called Vxx, which had been successful on Silver Peak's website. Consistent attention toward the self-service nature of installing and deploying the product is what Tinsley saw as a sign that customers may be interested in accessing its other WAN optimization tools in the same fashion.
"We saw so many customers completely self-service, downloading this thing and installing it successfully and getting great value from it, that we said 'let's go ahead and open this up to other customers,'" Tinsley says. "Larger customers, who had liked to evaluate our larger pay products, maybe just want to do it themselves."
Silver Peak had offered trial versions of its products in the past, Tinsley says. The process, however, involved the customer submitting a form on the Silver Peak website, after which a manual process between a sales representative and the customer would be carried out. Although the virtual marketplace will not replace the manual process that some customers may still prefer, Tinsley believes it's a step toward a trend that could catch on quickly.
"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.