From the looks of it, enterprise owned and operated WAN acceleration and optimization appliances are quickly becoming a extinct. One recent example is Ecessa Corp., a manufacturer of WAN acceleration hardware appliances. Seeing the writing on the wall, the company decided to pivot from their focus on hardware manufacturing and sales to a WAN acceleration services and support model. Ecessa will continue to sell hardware, but consider it to be “legacy” arm of their new business strategy. Future customers and revenue streams are expected come primarily in service form that will be sold through their existing VAR network.
Indeed, the WAN acceleration service provider market continues to expand and is becoming a much more profitable and accessible market than the manufacturing of acceleration hardware. And now that manufacturers are getting into the game, it raises the fundamental question, what are all these companies doing to differentiate themselves? They all share benefits such as a reduction of in-house expertise and the elimination of headaches when working with MPLS providers that are notoriously slow from quote-to-completion. But other than these two primary points, there are plenty of WAN acceleration provider distinctions that you should be aware of when choosing a provider, including:
Customer Size: The biggest differentiator between providers these days is the focus on customer needs based on size. On the low end of the scale, you have WAN optimization providers — including Ecessa that are looking at companies that wish to optimize DSL and cable modem-connected branch offices. On the other hand, WAN acceleration providers like Infineta pride themselves on being able to handle services for “big data” customers.
Budget and Premium Services: Just like any area of competition, the WAN optimization service provider market has options for budget-conscious businesses or those that are looking for white glove treatment at premium prices. Virtila is one such white glove company that stresses customer service. They attract customers with deep pockets that demand immediate service in terms of both customer support and sales/design. Considering that Virtela’s motto is “passionate about support”, it stands to reason that they are seeking companies that are willing to pay a bit extra for that passion.
Customer Verticals: Some service providers have their hooks into very specific markets that have similar sets of applications and demands of their WAN accelerated services. Some providers choose to target industries such as high frequency trading (HFT), healthcare or government verticals as a differentiator. These providers are very good at understanding specific application requirements and can better cater to unique needs within that vertical.
As the WAN Acceleration service provider market continues to grow, expect more differentiation and splintering of services to occur. For many of these companies, finding a niche market is their key to survival. And considering that there are plenty of unique applications that need optimization over the WAN, there will likely be plenty of room for dozens of providers to be successful for years to come. It’s simply up to you to decide which one best meets your needs.