Next week Network World is hosting an online forum to discuss application acceleration across the WAN.Next week, Network World is hosting an online forum, Application acceleration across the WAN, to discuss application acceleration across the WAN.We invited just a few of the many vendors currently offering products that promise to help enterprise IT managers speed traffic across wide-area links. In many cases, IT managers use multiple products in concert to achieve the many functions needed to optimize application traffic over the WAN so a joint discussion we hope will reveal new applications of existing technologies and introduce our readers to innovative new approaches to solving a major pain point in enterprise IT shops.We asked four vendors - Cisco, Citrix (NetScaler) Packeteer and Silver Peak Systems - to help us kickstart the discussion and we welcome vendors to add useful technology information to our readers during the weeklong discussion. (If you want to get a head start, send your WAN acceleration questions now to Network World Executive Editor, Online Adam Gaffin and the vendors will start working on answers.) We hope to host a lively discussion knowing the market offers several options in various form factors for customers. For example, others vendors that provide some sort of WAN optimization or application acceleration product include: Array Networks, Certeon, Exinda Networks, Expand Networks, F5 Networks (which acquired Swan Labs), Juniper Networks (which acquired Peribit Networks and Redline Networks), Orbital Data, Riverbed Technology, and Tacit Networks, to name some of the more recent market players.Cisco: Following a few acquisitions (Actona Technologies and FineGround Networks to name two) and new product initiatives, Cisco's presence in the application acceleration market has expanded. The company introduced a pair of appliances to accelerate applications traveling from data center to remote offices. Dubbed the Cisco Application Velocity System (AVS), the technology accelerates HTML and XML application traffic on the Web, the company says, and the appliances can perform server offloading and minimize the chattiness that occurs between data exchanges.Citrix: By picking up NetScaler, Citrix is able to add application acceleration to its product roster. The NetScaler Application Delivery System performs multiple tasks such as compression, application-layer switching and TCP multiplexing. The NetScaler technology works by compressing data at the server end. On the client side, a Java applet or an Active-X agent is downloaded onto an end user's Web browser, which performs the unpacking of compressed data at the desktop.Packeteer: Packeteer's PacketShaper line of QoS, compression and bandwidth management products have traditionally been popular, enabling the company to garner a large installed base, according to a report by Forrester Research. But with competitors such as Expand, Peribit and Riverbed looking to displace the vendor, Packeteer has released less expensive versions of its PacketShaper appliances to reach a broader customer base.Silver Peak Systems: Last year this upstart emerged with technology it said could accelerate application traffic between the data center and remote offices regardless of the protocol. Coupled with appliances, Silver Peak's technology uses a method of traffic pattern recognition and local data caching to accelerate WAN traffic. The company says this technique can speed performance of all types of WAN traffic, instead of just certain applications or protocols. Silver Peak's NX line of appliances run software that can accelerate the performance of WAN traffic by caching the bit patterns of WAN traffic and then storing them locally. When the appliance recognizes patterns it already knows, it delivers the bit patterns locally, freeing up WAN pipes for other streams of traffic.What are your wants in WAN optimization and\/or application acceleration products? Let me know at mailto:email@example.com.