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WAN optimization has evolved into a complete system that optimizes traffic across a broad range of applications that enterprises use the most, while providing deep, actionable visibility into performance. And it serves as a great tool to consolidate data centers and branch services. WAN optimization providers are continually evolving solutions that help drive greater IT performance for any environment, and enable an unprecedented level of intelligence and control over IT assets.
Although the benefits of WAN optimization are well understood, choosing a technology implementation isn’t just about what it can do today – it’s also about where the technology provider plans to take their solutions tomorrow. Here are four considerations that should be discussed with providers before any purchase decision:
1. Mobility – Does the provider deliver a fully integrated mobility solution? The same acceleration technology that connects mobile workers should be used in the data center and branch offices to drive the best possible performance and ROI across the integrated system.
2. Cloud and virtualization – As the cloud (in its many forms) becomes more important, it’s essential that WAN optimization can extend to SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS vendors anywhere. A WAN optimization provider should have a defensible plan and the right relationships to make this happen. They should also be able to talk about initial results with customers in specific use cases.
3. Disaster recovery (DR) – Since consolidation has become so important for driving IT efficiency, it’s important to consider DR ramifications. With fewer sites becoming more important to everyday operations, robust DR operations become essential.
WAN optimization can make DR processes an order of magnitude more cost effective and reliable, but only if they are certified with the backup software developers and the storage vendors in use, such as EMC, NetApp, HP, Hitachi, IBM, and other software providers. A decision to later switch storage providers shouldn’t mean a switch of WAN optimization providers as well, so plan accordingly.
4. Consider the “radical roadmap” – Savvy WAN optimization providers are now looking to take WAN optimization to entirely new places. Sure many will accelerate more protocols and make integration easier, but some WAN optimization vendors are looking at building technology that optimizes virtual storage, virtual servers, and virtual desktops at the block layer.
This has the potential to dramatically change the consolidation landscape by enabling greater branch office centralization of storage and even VDI infrastructure. It will also help build a better branch office box solution to dramatically simplify the edge of the network. WAN optimization technology may also extend to cloud storage, enabling data acceleration and deduplication off premise to make storage faster and cheaper as well.