WAN Optimization Buying Guide

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It’s one thing to store massive amounts of data. But having a vast amount of data in a top-of-the-line storage network isn’t much use if you can’t serve that data rapidly to end user populations that are increasingly mobile and often global. That’s where Wide Area Network (WAN) Optimization comes in. It provides the linkage between storage centers, branch offices and users so that stored data can be relayed and transmitted with speed wherever and whenever it’s needed.

“In this new paradigm of anywhere and anytime connectivity, enterprise IT is struggling to control and monitor this new level of connectivity, and effectively maintain critical SLAs,” said Brad Casemore, an analyst with International Data Corp. (IDC). “As the level of complexity continues to grow, enterprise IT must invest in solutions, which allow them to achieve the same level of control and visibility for all connections, whether they originate from the data center, the branch, a mobile device or a SaaS application.”

That’s the background on this niche within the storage landscape. But as it’s quite a few years since we covered the world of Wide Area Network (WAN) Optimization, let’s see how it has evolved in recent years by reviewing what’s currently on offer from some of the primary players.

Silver Peak

Users can deploy Silver Peak as a virtual machine or physical appliance. The company offers the only multi-gigabit virtual WAN optimization solution, and runs on every major hypervisor. Silver Peak VX software and NX WAN optimization appliances can also be used to build a software-defined WAN (SD-WAN), which unifies the enterprise WAN with the Internet and public cloud. The software is available for immediate download and free trial via the Silver Peak software marketplace.

Unity, the new offering from Silver Peak, allows enterprises to establish outposts in public data centers near the physical location of cloud services. Unity then steers network traffic along the shortest, least congested path. The Unity Cloud Intelligence connects to providers such as AWS and Windows Azure, as well as SaaS applications such as Salesforce.com, Box, and Office 365. All of these are then connected to the organization’s data center and branch offices. By keeping everything on the Unity fabric, IT gains greater control of connectivity.

“Silver Peak leverages Intel CPUs to provide higher throughput and higher connection counts per appliance (physical or virtual) than other WAN optimization vendors,” said Everett Dolgner, director of storage and replication product management, Silver Peak. “For the storage buyer, Silver Peak offers a dedicated replication acceleration solution that is easily deployed and quickly solves replication, backup, and data migration problems.”

Ipanema Technologies

Ipanema is objective-based, global, automated system that orchestrates various features to achieve the best application performance over the WAN. This encompasses application visibility, application control, WAN optimization, dynamic WAN selection and network rightsizing. Most recently, Ipanema has been working on a better end-user experience for Microsoft Lync, Microsoft Office 365 and Google apps. The company has also been partnering with Zscaler for greater network and storage security, Pricing: depending on the number of users and sites but the average TCO for a company is $3 per user and per month, said Béatrice Piquer, Vice President Marketing, Ipanema.

“Ipanema can guarantee application performance on over 1,000 site networks for each user,” said Piquer. “It dynamically manages hybrid networks from an application performance standpoint, protects business apps, and maximizes adoption of new apps like Lync.”


Aryaka’s WAN Optimization as a Service with a core network platform built using redundant private links across a series of globally distributed 25 POPs (points of presence). These are strategically placed to cover 90% of the world’s enterprise users. Pricing starts at $1,000 per location per month for a 2Mbps link.

Sonal Puri, Chief Marketing Officer at Aryaka, believes it is better than its competitors due to instant deployment, its agility to add and expand links, its high performance backed by SLAs and zero CAPEX.

“We provide a private middle-mile network which is included with the optimization,” said Puri. “And our last mile is flexible yet is composed of business-grade Internet links.”


Riverbed Technology has just released Riverbed SteelHead 9.0 and Riverbed SteelCentral AppResponse 9.5. The basic concept is to provide optimization for any app, visibility from the data center to the cloud, and simplified control across hybrid networks with network path selection capabilities that make it easy to group applications via policy. This has been brought about by a combination of product upgrades as well as tighter integration between SteelHead and SteelCentral. The company is now calling this the Riverbed Application Performance Platform.

“Riverbed is now poised to do for cloud and SaaS applications what we’ve done for more than 1100 applications across the wide area network for the last decade,” said Jerry M. Kennelly, Riverbed Chairman and CEO.

SteelHead 9.0 is said to deliver a substantial performance improvement over earlier versions. It also measures the end-user experience for SteelHead-optimized and non-optimized enterprise web and SaaS applications. This aids in faster and more effective monitoring, and troubleshooting. It also simplifies the process of grouping applications according to their type and business priority to automate SLA activation for different types of apps. It comes with Geo IQ for Microsoft Office 365, which ensures users are connected to the native mailbox for optimal performance regardless of where the Office 365 mailbox or the user is located. Not products will be generally available sometime in this quarter.


Fortinet is a major player in the security marketplace. But it is also becoming a growing presence in WAN optimization. Its tool allows you to improve WAN performance and more intelligently manage bandwidth. It does this in such a way that data center storage and client devices use far less bandwidth by applying compression algorithm, data caching and other techniques to reduce the transmission of data.

The company also combines WAN optimization and multi-threat protection in its FortiGate consolidated security appliances. This is said to reduce the complexity and maintenance overhead faced by IT. FortiGate appliances support WAN optimization and web caching to improve application performance and security of traffic passing between locations on your wide area network (WAN) or from the Internet to web servers and storage devices.

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

Drew Robb
Drew Robb
Drew Robb is a contributing writer for Datamation, Enterprise Storage Forum, eSecurity Planet, Channel Insider, and eWeek. He has been reporting on all areas of IT for more than 25 years. He has a degree from the University of Strathclyde UK (USUK), and lives in the Tampa Bay area of Florida.

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