A number of elements are converging in 2006 to make WAN performance optimization technologies a must-have for enterprise IT shops.At least that is according to a new research document published by Burton Group Senior Analyst Eric Siegel. The report, which covers a broad range of WAN optimization topics that I may explore further in another newsletter, gets into detail about the reasons why enterprise IT shops need to pay better attention to WAN optimization technologies in the coming months.Among the drivers for improving application performance over the wide-area are data center consolidation and database backup. Siegel explains that centralizing server and file systems does improve costs for organizations and improve back-up capabilities that were problematic when scattered across branch offices. Yet applications that work well on the LAN just don't deliver the same speeds on the WAN."Remote offices may discover crippling decreases in application performance when their file, e-mail and other application servers are moved to a consolidated data center. Backups may take 10 or more hours," Siegel writes in the report"Optimizing WAN Performance: Accelerating Market Growth.""Salvaging a LAN-based application by making it function acceptably over a WAN results in cost savings when compared to the software and business costs of moving to a new application," Siegel writes.In this example, an investment in WAN optimization technologies, such as compression, caching and others could help companies enjoy the cost savings of consolidating their data center without suffering the poor performance and back-up issues common over the wide area.In addition to meeting past performance demands, Siegel points out that there are new performance demands making WAN optimization technologies appealing to more enterprise IT shops. One of the reasons IT shops have to keep applications performing at their best is the growth of the mobile and remote worker community. For example, transfers of large files so employees can simultaneously work on projects increases the need for optimal application speed over the WAN."Individual workers don't want to endure poor performance just because they're on the road or work in a very small office that doesn't have an [IT] staff or a set of local servers," Siegel writes in the report.For more on the market drivers and enterprise need for WAN optimization, check out next week's Network Optimization newsletter.