Because about 40% of enterprise employees work outside of corporate headquarters, according to Yankee Group estimates, companies more now than ever need to optimize the delivery of data center applications over the WAN - and the need will only continue to grow, say industry watchers."The bottom line is that application acceleration is a critical part of an effective IT strategy," says George Hamilton, director of enterprise computing and networking at The Yankee Group. "The market is consolidating and more features are being loaded onto single devices."Among the vendors looking to tap this hot market is Crescendo Networks, which delivers application front-end appliances to customers in an asymmetrical model - meaning customer need only to deploy an appliance in their data center. The company is set to debut at Interop this week its Application Layer Processing (ALP) technology that the company says will enable its Maestro application front-end boxes to speed app delivery by reducing back-end processing bottlenecks, among other things.The ALP technology, combined with Crescendo's TCP optimization, SSL acceleration and compression features, can help reduce the processing time for applications on back-end systems such as databases, the company says. Loaded onto a Maestro in front of a Web server farm in a data center, ALP includes a rules engine that based on thresholds would not, for instance, send application requests into a processing queue unless the necessary capacity was available.The software can also identity requests that would take longer to process, and move other "lightweight" application processing requests ahead of the more process-intensive ones to prevent a backlog from occurring and causing the application to overload. Crescendo also included in ALP reporting capabilities that can show the complete transaction time across multiple application tiers.ALP features will be incrementally available as software modules for the Maestro appliance line starting this fall. Pricing for an integrated Maestro\/ALP product will start at $52,000.