Server centralization projects and Web apps boost optimization market

* Application acceleration market set for growth

Enterprise network managers considering tools to speed their applications over the wide-area could look into products from the likes of F5 Networks and Packeteer, which according to Gartner lead their respective markets.

Gartner this month released findings that suggest that the market for tools that perform caching, compression, protocol acceleration, wide-area files services and more could surpass $1.5 billion in 2006, which the firm says would represent a 23% increase over 2005. Gartner based the year-end estimates on first quarter revenue reports, which totaled about $344 million this year.

"Branch office server centralization projects and the move to Web-browser-based applications continue to drive this market," Joe Skorupa, research director for Gartner, said in a press release. "While the overall market was flat, the first quarter of 2006 represented a period during which strong players with functionally rich products like F5 Networks, Citrix NetScaler and Riverbed took share from weaker players."

Gartner segments the market for application acceleration products into two main categories: application delivery controllers (ADC) and WAN optimization controllers (WOC). The former are deployed in data centers in front of Web servers and do not require another appliance at a branch office. The latter use a symmetrical deployment design, with data center appliances and correlating devices in remote locations to support technologies such as compression.

According to Gartner, the market for ADC technology reached $209 million in the first quarter, with companies such as F5 Networks leading the segment with more than one-third of the market. Spending on WOC products in the first quarter capped out at about $135 million, with Packeteer claiming close to 20% of the market, Gartner says.

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