As virtualization and cloud computing take hold, WAN optimization makers have responded by developing products that support current trends.
Miles Kelly, senior director of product marketing at Riverbed Technology , says that the Riverbed Steelhead  EX Series embeds VMware’s  vSphere hypervisor to enable IT managers to extend virtual applications beyond the data center. “In the past, network managers may have been hesitant to run virtual applications outside of the data center,” says Kelly. “Now, they can consolidate WAN optimization and server boxes in remote locations, as well as run virtual applications.”
Cisco Systems  also addresses managing virtual applications across the cloud with its Cloud Services Router (CSR) 1000V. Prashanth Shenoy, Cisco’s senior manager of enterprise wireless networking, says the CSR eliminates the “hairpinning effect” when cloud traffic has to travel to an enterprise data center and then back to the user. The CSR sits in front of the application server at the cloud provider and routes traffic directly to the user.
Cisco has also introduced features to streamline networking for remote locations. For example, the Cisco Integrated Services Routers Generation 2  platform includes WAN optimization, virtual private networking, unified communications, security and a wireless LAN controller.
Barracuda Networks’ NG Firewall  also helps IT managers consolidate network gear by packing WAN optimization and security features into its products. Along with firewall, intrusion prevention, web filtering and VPN services, the NG Firewall lets network managers control application-level routing and prioritize traffic across multiple links, tunnels and traffic conditions.
Klaus Gheri, Barracuda’s vice president of product management Europe, says the NG Firewall now offers quality of service for video streaming. “This features keeps latency low and makes sure traffic keeps flowing steadily,” he says.
Meanwhile, the Exinda Edge  with the 360 Dynamic Policy Engine offers network managers the visibility to determine the context in which traffic travels over the network, says Brendan Reid, vice president of product marketing. “What network managers need to know today is how people are using the applications, and then set policies accordingly,” he says. Reid says IT managers can set up the product as an instance on a VMware server, so there’s no need to purchase another physical device.
Finally, Blue Coat PacketShaper  helps network administrators manage web traffic across the WAN more effectively. Mark Urban, Blue Coat Systems’ senior director of product marketing, says the device can handle YouTube, Facebook, gaming and peer-to-peer traffic, as well as VoIP and video conferencing traffic. The device enables IT managers to partition bandwidth for high-priority applications.