As the economy continues to struggle, the news for IT networks and WAN optimization has been mixed. Almost half – 45% – of networks will be totally obsolete within five years, while Q1 data center equipment sales rose 17% with Fibre Channel (FC) and Ethernet products turning in impressive performances, growing 52% and more than 300%, respectively. On the other hand, there was an unexpected 20% drop in WAN optimization appliance sales.
Networks remain a top priority for organizations, according to a new report from Gartner, that showed telecom equipment and services will account for the largest chunk of a global IT spend that will surpass $3.6 trillion in 2012. Telecom equipment spending will reach $377 billion this year, up 17.5%, and growing another 8.3% in 2013, while telecom services will come in at $1.686 trillion (up 1.4%) and $1.725 trillion (up 2.3%), respectively in 2012 and 2013.
WANop vendors are not standing still during this period of upheaval. Virtualization heavyweight VMware just shelled out $1.26 billion to buy Nicira, Inc., the developer of the Network Virtualization Platform (NVP), to grab a piece of the growing Software-Defined Networking (SDN) market.
This move will really help the network virtualization movement, according to Rick Tinsley, President and CEO of WAN optimization vendor Silver Peak. “SDN has gone from merely hot, to a plasma state.” His company just expanded its software-based virtual product line with the addition of three new versions, the VX-500 for small remote sites, and the VX-6000 and VX-7000 for data centers, regional offices and disaster recovery (DR) sites.
While the Nicira deal may create some friction for the VMware/EMC/Cisco partnership because it eliminates the need for ‘proprietary’ switches, Cisco’s bread-and-butter business, the network giant also just reiterated its belief that WAN optimization is essential to its network-centric platform strategy. “Cisco is continuing to invest in the Wide Area Application Services (WAAS) portfolio to drive our strategy of integrating WAN Optimization into the network fabric to achieve unmatched scale, performance, and simplicity, while reducing overall customer TCO,” wrote Prashanth Shenoy in a new blog. “Over 10,000 global customers have invested in WAAS with an installed base of over 165,000 units.”
Around the same time Nicira was being acquired and Silver Peak was expanding its portfolio, WANop vendor Riverbed Technology was announcing a partnership to enhance Juniper Networks’ capabilities in key network domains across the enterprise, including in the data center, across WANs, and in consumer and business devices.
In mid-July, Blue Coat Systems, another WANop vendor, introduced mobile application controls to give administrators the ability to not only determine which applications are allowed on the network but also to what extent mobile device users are able to interact with those applications. At the same time, another WANop vendor, Aryaka Networks, was raising money to fund its efforts to move networking to the cloud.
The bottom line is that networks are the foundation of the information economy, and WAN optimization is a critical enabler of higher-performance, lower-cost networks. The WANop vendors are stepping up with a variety of hardware, software and virtual solutions that will help organizations make the transition to the emerging world of anywhere, anytime, anybody access.
Image source: flick.r (Wesley Fryer)