The appeal of managed WAN optimization services

* Potential for cost savings will drive enterprises to consider managed services model, says Forrester Research analyst

Deciding whether to deploy and manage a new technology in-house using internal IT resources or go with an outsourcer is a common dilemma in the IT world, and the WAN optimization market is no exception.

As the WAN optimization market matures, more enterprises are opting to go with a managed service instead of running their own gear, according to Robert Whiteley, a senior analyst at Forrester Research who said he talks frequently with folks “struggling to get applications to deploy and perform well across a global footprint.”

Whiteley spoke about the future of managed WAN optimization services in a recent Webcast put on by Ipanema Technologies.

To set the stage, Whitely talked about how companies are taxing their WANs as they deploy more distributed applications, perform remote backup procedures, and pursue server and data-center consolidation efforts, for example. “What that means is that you’re asked to increase your application footprint while decreasing your infrastructure footprint, all while making it more secure and more able to recover from disasters,” Whiteley said. “It’s quite difficult and puts a big tax on the [WAN].”

It takes only a couple of demanding applications to create a fairly low-bandwidth or high latency network, and poorly performing applications can hinder employees’ ability to complete key business processes and effect customer care, Whiteley said.

When it comes to solving the problem of bottlenecks in the application environment, Whiteley said that a WAN optimization service can be more cost-effective than deploying in-house technology.

For one, a managed service eliminates a lot of upfront configuration pains. To get appropriate application visibility and control across a network takes a lot of setup work if you do it yourself, he said. In addition, a managed service lets a company quickly scale applications, decrease its network integration costs and mitigate ongoing costs associated with optimizing application delivery.

As the market for managed WAN optimization services gets off the ground, Whiteley expects they initially will be most appealing to small and midsize businesses, which in the past have been priced out of costly WAN optimization gear. As options mature, more large enterprises will consider the model, he said.

Meanwhile, options are increasing. AT&T launched a managed application acceleration service in early June, followed by network and security services provider Virtela Communications, which announced its own suite of managed services for improving application and protocol performance over the WAN about a month ago.

In the next newsletter I’ll share Whiteley’s recommendations for selecting the right provider.

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