Gartner Magic Quadrant for WAN Optimization Controllers – Summarized

The WAN Optimization market continues to mature as companies continue to search for ways to increase response times to mission critical applications between their data centers and remote sites. Having done some research for a customer on WAN Optimization Controllers, I stumbled across Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for WOCs. Here is a summary of my findings. Hoping they could help others along the way.

What is a WAN Optimization Controller? (WOC)

A WAN Optimization Controller is a piece of equipment located at a customer premise. A WOC can either be an appliance or virtual appliance. If the WOC is an appliance or virtual appliance, then it is typically connected to the LAN side of the WAN routers. The WOC can also be software integrated with client devices such as servers and or routers.

What is the function of the WAN Optimization Controller (WOC)

Deployed symmetrically in data centers, the goal of a WOC is to improve application performance when accessed through a WAN. The WOC can address application performance problems caused by bandwidth and latency issues. The primary objective and function of the WOC is to improve response times of business critical applications over WAN links. WOC deployment can also avoid the need for costly bandwidth upgrades.

Published May 1, 2013, 14 vendors have been listed on Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for WOCs. Riverbed has slowly, but steadily made its way to the top of the leader board setting themselves aside from the rest of the pack. Here is the list and some important facts to consider.

wan optimization gartner

The chart above is from the Gartner Magic Quadrant for WAN Optimization Controllers for 2013 from Gartner.

Rather than go into many details about each company featured in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant, I figured I would provide some summarized points about some of the featured vendors which made my shortlist and caught my attention. Please note, that although I did not provide some facts or details about some of the vendors, it does not mean I do not recommend them. They simply did not make my short list.

Magic Quadrant for WAN Optimization Controllers Leaders

Riverbed Technology
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Riverbed continues to innovate and offers the broadest set of capabilities in the industry. The acquisition of Opnet Technologies, integration with VMware VCenter & VCloud Director and their go to market partnership with Juniper Networks are only a few of the reasons Riverbed is winning this race. In my opinion Riverbed should be on all enterprise short lists for the near future if considering a WOC solution

  • Riverbed offers the broadest set of capabilities in the industry, including features for large branch networks, data center replication and storage networking protocols, and single remote users, combined with unmatched ease of installation and management and best-in-class presales and postsales support.
  • Riverbed offers among the broadest support for application-specific optimizations in the industry, including TCP, UDP, HTTP, VDI and dynamic browser-based applications such as SharePoint, as well as comprehensive support of business applications, such as CRM and ERP.
  • Traffic management and visibility could be an area of improvement
  • Offered in appliance and virtual appliance format.

Magic Quadrant for WAN Optimization Controllers Challengers

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As Riverbed stands alone in the “Leader” space, Cisco stands as the sole “Challenger” according to Gartner. Cisco has a broad portfolio of WOC offerings (physical and virtual appliances, router-based service modules and limited-function embedded router software). Cisco has made its Wide Area Application Services (WAAS) family easier to deploy and manage

  • With the WAAS team now integrated into Cisco’s Integrated Services Router (ISR) team, Gartner expects continued integration of WAN optimization capabilities into the ISR platform. Their market presence and extensive partnership and with other vendors make them a natural potential vendor when it comes to WAN Optimization solutions
  • Cisco’s partnerships with Citrix and VMware to deliver an optimized VDI solution is helping Cisco demonstrate new capabilities
  • Cisco has a track record of being slow to release new WAAS features, and while deployment and management of Cisco WAAS is improved, it still lags behind the leading competition
  • Offered as physical and virtual appliances, router-based service modules and limited-function embedded router software

Magic Quadrant for WAN Optimization Controllers Visionaries

Silver Peak
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Silver Peak’s WOC capabilities are delivered through the vendor’s physical NX appliances and VX/VRX virtual appliances.

  • Silver Peak maintained its focus in data center storage replication, where it’s strong and backed up by segment-leading products with top-tier performance, and good strategic alliances with data center infrastructure companies, such as EMC, Hitachi and Dell
  • The company has a large portfolio of appliances, with flexibility on deployment options (hardware and virtual appliances) and pricing (subscription, perpetual, pay as you grow and free)
  • Silver Peak optimizes all IP traffic
  • Consider Silver Peak for all data center replication projects and where its cost-effective virtual WOC solution meets your application profile
  • Offered in physical NX appliances and VX/VRX virtual appliances

Blue Coat Systems
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  • Blue Coat supports one of the industry’s widest ranges of application-specific acceleration solutions, as well as a strong video solution with many streaming protocols, and offers support for dynamic browser-based applications
  • Blue Coat provides a strong solution for SaaS applications via its direct-to-the-Internet capabilities
  • Offers very detailed application traffic visibility and traffic management that also provides visibility of Web applications and native mobile and mobile browser applications
  • Consider Blue Coat for branch-office-to-data-center optimization, particularly when access to SaaS providers, video delivery, and detailed visibility and traffic management are a priority
  • Blue Coat offers a broad range of appliance price points and performance levels
  • Offered as ProxySG appliances or virtual appliance

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Citrix’s WOC product range comprises the Branch Repeater/CloudBridge and Branch Repeater with Windows Server appliances for branch offices, Repeater/CloudBridge appliances for data centers and larger sites, and the Citrix Repeater Plug-in SoftWOC client.

  • Citrix has a strong cloud-focused offering, especially with cloud bridging work with Amazon — CloudBridge and Branch Repeater as Amazon Machine Image (AMI)
  • Citrix has a strong offering for hosted virtual desktop (HVD) application visibility and QoS for TCP and UDP
  • The offering for data-center-to-data-center solutions is limited, with support only for TCP, no storage-specific protocol optimizations and limited bandwidth per flow. Citrix has targeted the first half of 2013 for NetApp-specific storage optimizations
  • Offered in a range of products

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Ipanema Technologies
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Magic Quadrant for WAN Optimization Controllers Niche

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F5’s WOC features are available under the vendor’s Traffic Management Operating System (TMOS) architecture supported on its BIG-IP platforms via the BIG-IP’s WAN Optimization Manager module, or as stand-alone appliances or as a virtual edition.

  • The company’s WOC offering is driven by its vision of integrated application delivery services that are available on a range of data center platforms with a strong integration between WOC and application delivery controller (ADC), and with a strong focus on security and virtual machine live migration
  • F5 lacks focus on the WAN optimization business and manages it as an add-on to its BIG-IP ADC business. As a result, it has limited visibility and success in the WOC market
  • Evaluate F5 when high-performance data-center-to-data-center optimization is important or when its asymmetrical acceleration provides good-enough performance
  • Offered as BIG-IP’s WAN Optimization Manager module, stand-alone appliance or virtual appliance

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Circadence has developed extensive capabilities to optimize mobile traffic (3G and 4G) that depends on a novel approach using a proprietary protocol between devices to reduce loss, manage QoS and improve link utilization. Consider Circadence when mobility plays a critical role in your business and when support for a broad array of client devices is required. Also evaluate Circadence for branch-to-data-center optimization, especially when link quality is problematic.

  • Circadence has a broad portfolio, including physical and virtual appliances, SoftWOCs for a large variety of OSs, and an API to integrate Circadence software with third-party application
  • Circadence lacks data-center-to-data-center-specific capabilities
  • The company has limited visibility in the general market, especially outside of the U.S., although efforts are underway to improve this situation
  • Offered as physical and virtual appliances

Array Networks-Certeon
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FatPipe Networks
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Thank you.