I recently had the opportunity to participate in an amazing panel interview sponsored by CDW in partnership with Riverbed, produced by CIO magazine and held at the Foreign Cinema in the Mission District of San Francisco. There were 26 very bright attendees from various levels of information technology. The focus of the event was WAN Optimization and its current usage, changes and evolution.

WAN Optimization: Current Status
The tech research and advisory firm Gartner estimated in 2008, when WAN Optimization was a $1 billion industry, that by 2014 it would be a $4.4 billion industry. We have certainly hit that peak as we see more organizations planning to invest in WAN Optimization.

Currently WAN Optimization is used for TCP Compression and Optimization in lower latency links. It also works to assist applications that benefit from file pre-positioning and caching such as the Common Internet File System (CIFS).

WAN Optimization: Evolution
While currently as useful as ever, the decreasing cost of bandwidth, via service providers, has WAN Optimization technology going through changes.  WAN Optimization used to be about the compression and optimizing of expensive low latency links. But now, with the aforementioned cheaper bandwidth availability, the landscape has changed. 

Due to high bandwidth availability for WAN and even lower prices for Internet local access, WAN Optimization has evolved into optimizing the usage and efficiently of load balancing or sharing traffic across multiple carriers or loops like Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) loops or Internet access loops.

This shift is making WAN Optimization companies tailor their focus toward application visibility and performance-aware routing – in other words, prioritizing traffic over the links. These two components of visibility and performance routing decisions is where the next evolution of WAN optimization is headed. What’s more, many companies are already there.

The intelligent, resilient, visible and performance-based iWAN is the new focus of WAN Optimization and performance as the market for service provider services has lowered in cost, thereby making high bandwidth more attainable. Learn more about iWAN at Aaron Pilcher’s blog post.