WAN Optimization: Limited to International Networks or Also Suited to Local In-Country Networks?

Joel Stradling

Summary Bullets:

  • Provider-managed WAN optimization is less likely to be used in the U.S. market due to the widespread availability of cost-effective bandwidth across major towns and cities.
  • A number of pan-European and UK carriers report take-up of managed WAN optimization in domestic-only networks.

WAN optimization can be a costly component and there is always going to be a tradeoff between throwing bandwidth at a problem versus implementing some sort of WAN optimization.  The other question IT managers face is whether to buy and drop in WAN optimization on their own in a DIY setup or to contract a service provider, but this is a topic for a future discussion.  Current Analysis has noticed a difference between the way UK and U.S. service providers respond to the question.  In the U.S., national operators are ambivalent about deploying their own managed WAN optimization services, because there is not much customer demand.  WAN optimization CPE and provider-managed services are expensive, and it is more logical for customers to purchase more capacity, rather than to try to manage capacity more granularly.  There are some provider WAN optimization services run out of Internet data centers, and some enterprises will buy and drop in their own CPE to triage their worst application behavior.  In contrast, BT and Colt report customers that subscribe to their domestic UK WAN optimization implementations.

The contrast is more than likely dictated by economics.  The cost factor to throw bandwidth at a problem can give a sufficient payback.  BT listed several market trends that it perceives as contributing to the take-up of domestic WAN optimization in the UK, such as more and more home workers where its ‘BT Connect Accelerate,’ with a mobile capability client on the end user’s PC, ensures performance improvements (by a factor of 20 to 200 depending on the application).  Other drivers include: migration of services to the cloud; the need for faster transactions on specific applications (for example, Microsoft Office, SAP, Siebel, Oracle, SharePoint, and Citrix); clients that have large numbers of small branch locations; and temporary deployments, such as those that might be needed in construction projects.  IT managers can consider the cost factors of either adding capacity to the links or deploying WAN optimization, all the while also looking at how each can improve business productivity.  In a future ‘Network’ ITC blog posting, we will explore the earlier question on DIY WAN optimization versus contracting a service from an operator or other provider.

About Joel Stradling
Joel is a Research Director in the Business Network and IT Services team at Current Analysis. Joel and his team cover global and European providers of enterprise voice and data network services, as well as international wholesale carrier-to-carrier services. Additionally, Joel covers managed WAN solutions, including Ethernet and IP VPN, and innovative developments in wholesale carrier services.

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