Recently I wrote a two-part newsletter about an industry analyst's research and perspective on why WAN performance optimization is becoming more critical for enterprise network managers (part 1 of the newsletter here, part 2 here).The newsletters drew a lot of comments from vendors that deliver products that either compress or cache packets traversing the WAN or promise to speed data to remote locations. Many vendors focus on a few WAN performance tasks and others promise to deliver an end-to-end product that would speed, secure and manage WAN traffic.Juniper Networks' director of product marketing, Mike Banic, wrote: "Improving the performance of the broad set of centralized apps can have a profound effect on the productivity of remote and branch-office workers." You'll remember that Juniper bought WAN optimization specialist Peribit Networks last April.Comments from relative newcomer SilverPeak Systems support the premise that this issue is becoming bigger for enterprise network managers. Craig Stouffer, vice president for worldwide marketing at the vendor, says: "As we enter 2006, we are seeing a major shift in the buying cycle for this market." He adds that, "the average number of WAN acceleration devices installed per customer to date has been under eight units," which he says means that the majority of deployments to date have been quick fixes to a larger problem.He goes on to explain in an e-mail to me that "perhaps the most convincing data point is the fact that less than 22% of enterprises have identified a need to perform a detailed ROI to justify their new expenditures in application delivery solutions. The expected benefits - improved application availability and improved user productivity - appear to be self-evident, paving the way for enormous IT expenditures in this space - and new technology innovation."In light of the positive feedback I received from vendors on this topic, I wanted to turn the tables a bit and hear what those facing the problem head-on have to say. This week I want to start to better understand what you, the typical network manager, need from WAN optimization tools. Why would you consider these products?Your input would help me in my reporting and it could also trigger a more honest discussion among vendors when Network World hosts a live discussion online at the end of February. For one week starting Feb. 27, we'll have experts on hand from several major WAN performance optimization vendors. Thinking about optimizing your WAN apps? Want to see the different approaches? Please let me know your thoughts, questions and concerns at\u00a0mailto:email@example.com and I will be sure to pass them along to vendors. Or log on to the forum if you get a chance and ask them yourselves (we'll let you know the URL closer to the event).**** Network World is on the road beginning Feb. 23 to discuss network management issues. The four-city technology tour is titled "Network Management: The New Core Competency" and is free to registered attendees. Jim Metzler, president of Ashton Metzler and Associates and co-author of Network World's Wide Area Networking newsletter will moderate the event where he and a number of network management vendors will discuss issues such as analytics, infrastructure performance and Web services. More information can be found at the Network World Events Web site.