WAN Talk with Cliff Grossner, Infonetics Research – Part 2

By Steve Woo
Co-Founder and Vice President of Products, VeloCloud
February 22, 2015

A Look at the WAN Market Today: Post 2 (of 2) with Cliff Grossner of Infonetics Research, now part of IHS Inc.


VeloCloud’s VP of Products and Co-Founder Steve Woo recently spoke with Clifford Grossner, Ph.D.,(@cliffgrossner) Infonetics Research (now part of IHS Inc.) Directing Analyst for Data Center, Cloud, and SDN. The conversation has been covered in two parts. This post #2 covers ‘The WAN Market Trajectory’ with an exploration of where the WAN market might be headed in the near as well as more distant future.

Steve Woo:  Infonetics recently issued a report that tracks the WAN optimization market. What did you find out that hints at the prospects for broader WAN market?

Cliff Grossner: My quarterly report on market size, share, and forecast for data center and network equipment includes the WAN optimization space. With regard to the broader market there seems to be a lot of interest in the WAN market as it’s being redefined, which includes moving the WAN control to the cloud and load balancing across multiple link types. There have been a number of new startups in the area of cloud-delivered WAN—such as VeloCloud itself—and we see mobility and enterprises  shifting to off-premises cloud services as elements now driving the market forward.

WOO:  What is the most daunting thing for enterprises as they think about moving to the cloud, including their WAN?

GROSSNER:  I think that enterprises are really trying to understand their cloud strategies, and WAN is part of the cloud strategy. A survey Infonetics did recently found that enterprises look to off-premises cloud services for significant cost savings over time, from improvements in operational efficiencies. That includes how they purchase WAN services. I think the daunting part for enterprises is evaluating cloud service providers and figuring out which one is the lowest risk for them. They want to know how long that cloud service provider has been in business, how reliable they’ve been, how financially stable they are. It’s still important that the cloud service provider have the latest technology, but that’s not the supreme criterion for making a decision.

WOO:  Would you say there are any big misconceptions or points of confusion about the WAN market in general, or the hybrid WAN market in particular?

GROSSNER:  In the hybrid WAN market, people might get too focused on the fact that now we can load balance across multiple link types. That’s an important advancement, but people miss the bigger picture about control migrating to the cloud, where those tools are now run by a third party.It’s important to understand what’s going on from the perspective of application delivery performance. Because at the end of the day, it’s application delivery performance that really counts. It’s being able to respond quickly, when a user calls an IT administrator to say that the performance isn’t where it needs to be, that the administrator has a place to go that makes it easy to find out where the issues are, with an end-to-end view of application delivery.

WOO:  What are some of the important aspects of an end-to-end view of application delivery?

GROSSNER:  An app on a server connects with application delivery control and services in the data center, which connects to the WAN  and then  onto the user device.. Providing an end-to-end view is the only way to know what’s going well and what’s not going well. If there’s a problem, is it with the data center? Is it on the WAN link? Is it at the end-user device? We tend to compartmentalize things. Someone says they’re doing hybrid WAN, and someone else says they’re doing application delivery control (ADC). But at the end of the day, end users and IT administrators need cloud services that tie it all together.

If we think about where WAN and ADC need to be, it’s that all the components work together in concert to make sure the user experience is what it should be. And the reason that apps need to provide a high quality user experience is because they’re becoming so critical to how people work. Work isn’t a place anymore; it’s a space you go to, and your desktop or your device is that space you reach for to do your work and connect with colleagues.

WOO:  Do you see different approaches to providing that end-to-end view?

GROSSNER:  We’ve seen some very good examples already, including what I have seen in the demo for VeloCloud, where very quickly an IT administrator can look at the performance on a particular link and see the experience of particular applications. I think that’s a great starting point. I think the next level is the analytics that might allow for automatic tuning of how applications are treated, based upon artificial intelligence (AI) techniques. I think it’s still early days in terms of where we’re going with that.

WOO:  Right now, what do you think is the greatest opportunity in this space?

GROSSNER:  What drives revenue more than anything else is winning the hearts and minds of customers and end users. So I think making it easy to consume is the biggest opportunity. Any service where the IT administrator can understand very quickly how to ensure a good-quality end-user experience is going to really help adoption. If it doesn’t take an expert to get the service up and running, and if it’s self-discoverable from the time you log in to the time you’re getting value, that’s the biggest opportunity. All enterprises today don’t necessarily have the expertise to figure it all out.

Then, of course, there’s the financial consideration. IT budgets aren’t getting bigger, and WAN links today are expensive. A solution that can make life better for the IT administrator—who is the real user for WAN—while simultaneously driving costs out of the equation, that’s a pretty compelling value proposition.

WAN-Talk is an ongoing series of discussions between VeloCloud and various industry luminaries about the state and prospects of the wide-area networking (WAN) market.

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