A recent survey conducted by IDC and commissioned by Ipanema Technologies shows that the WAN is becoming a more critical element to global businesses.The survey, in which IDC polled about 110 multi-national network managers and system architects, found that "true WAN efficiency requires a global solution and one that links application performance requirements directly to WAN behavior," IDC stated in the white paper, which can be downloaded here.Specifically, IDC asked how important the WAN is to respondents' ability to run and support the business and its applications. More than 70% of those polled said it was very important, and about one-fourth said it was important to some degree. Yet in response to a question regarding their comfort level with the network and network management tools they have in place to deal with an increase in demand on the WAN, responses were less uniform. Just more than 10% said they felt completely comfortable with the tools they had in place, 30% said they were more than adequately prepared and 35% felt adequately prepared. About one-fourth of respondents didn't feel adequately ready for an increase in WAN application traffic, IDC found.IDC said in the white paper, one of two reasons IT managers felt they could respond well to future demand is that many indicated they plan to increase their network capacity. Nearly three-fourths (71%) of respondents said they plan to increase network capacity in the next 24 months. The second reason, IDC says, is that another 40% intend to acquire WAN management tools in the same timeframe.Among the features survey respondents found most useful in application traffic management tools were those that could guarantee the performance of critical applications and those that could control and\/or block application flows. Other features such as real-time monitoring and anticipating the impact of network changes also ranked high with survey respondents.To learn more about what IDC suggests IT managers do when tackling application performance across the WAN, read the next edition of my Network Optimization newsletter.