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WAN Optimization at Interop: More of the Same, or Totally Different?

Sometimes it’s more fun sitting on the panel than it is watching it from the audience. It certainly provided a unique opportunity to watch a group of experienced IT vendor technologists and marketeers all claim to be unique, and THE SOLUTION for our 100+ audience members that filled the mid-sized room. Are different WAN optimization vendors’ solution offerings really different from one another? Can they uniquely solve customers’ growing IT and cost challenges in this still challenged economic environment and budget year(s)? Or was this session at Interop just “more of the same thing?”

You would almost believe that each vendor was truly unique if you heard many of us on the panel. I responded to one of the moderator (analyst Jim Metzler) questions with an answer around Cisco WAAS’ software vendor alliances and resulting jointly validated network designs. Other panelists responded similarly within the same question cycle or in the following one, as tech editor/blogger Sean Michael Curtis points out in a summary article: “Both Citrix and Riverbed spokespersons highlighted their application partnerships with Microsoft, which is also something that Cisco has.” Similarly, different vendors pointed out who works better with Citrix apps — both Presentation Server (now XenApp) and virtual desktops (now XenDesktop) — themselves or Citrix itself. I myself wasn’t sure what (or who) the right answer was — the ISV itself or someone who tested and designed around it. Other publications that covered our panel noted how the different vendors rallied around different positioning or architectural points, be it “better visibility” or “customer ability to set policies, while service providers manage it” to “better understanding of virtualization”. We at Cisco simply stated “we glue this technology into your network better”, or maybe more eloquently stated as “integrate WAN optimization in with the underlying physical infrastructure and other networking elements…” The net conclusion from this session, by the audience and Mr. Metzler, as well as several bloggers posting later — “you gotta try it and see what it really does for your IT and network infrastructure, not to mention your end users”.

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