WAN optimization in the year ahead

* WAN optimization and application acceleration predictions from industry executives

As 2009 kicked off, I asked a handful of WAN optimization veterans to weigh in on what they think will be the biggest technology and industry trends to watch during the year ahead. Here’s what some had to say (and please stay tuned for more predictions in the next newsletter).

Networks and application frameworks will become more closely integrated, predicts Kent Alstad, CTO at Strangeloop Networks

“Tighter integration means applications will be able to request the network to perform specific functions, ultimately allowing individual application components to run in the most efficient location, on the fastest hardware. Tighter integration also means the network devices can take on more complex, application-oriented tasks, including tasks previously performed by coders, and deliver new levels of performance optimization,” Alstad says. “The combination of distributing tasks and increasing task complexity means IT staff gain more capable tools to help them achieve fast, available Web applications everywhere.”

Managed services for the data center will experience unprecedented growth, says Christophe Peretou, vice president of technical operations at Streamcore. “Enterprises will embrace this model to continue to improve application delivery and to reduce their overall data center operations costs. Network visibility will continue to grow in importance as IT teams need to justify network performance, decision making and IT purchases.”

Belinda Yung-Rubke, director of marketing at Fluke Networks, also expects to see enterprises place greater emphasis on application visibility in 2009.

“We should expect an increase in WAN optimization projects to squeeze more out of existing bandwidth. To understand what type of optimization is needed, IT managers need to have visibility to the application traffic and usage of the WAN,” Yung-Rubke says. “Those who take a structured approach to determine networked application performance, hence the optimization required, are more likely to succeed in maximizing WAN resources.

Similarly, the importance of WAN application performance will increase IT’s focus on performance measurement and service-level agreements (SLA), says Joshua Bixby, president of Strangeloop Networks. “This will drive a blurring of the lines between application delivery and performance measurement products as vendors work to give enterprises solutions that not only track performance, but also take action to deal with performance gaps.”

Meanwhile, Shawn Cooney, co-founder and director of research for Certeon, says virtualization of server, storage, client, and network resources will have a direct impact on the entire workforce, especially branch office and mobile employees, during 2009.

“As this creates new demands and complexities on an enterprise's entire infrastructure, more cost-effective WAN optimization solutions will continue to grow in importance,” Cooney says. “With virtualization spreading out to remote and mobile users, we predict that virtualized WAN optimization technologies will make a strong showing and, ultimately, put an end to legacy system and appliance sprawl.”

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Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.