Verizon Business last Wednesday announced its new Managed WAN Optimization Service, marking another step in the company's expansion of its performance management portfolio. The service will use Juniper Networks Inc.'s WXC platform, which uses optimization techniques like caching and acceleration to boost application speeds and provide diagnostic information to evaluate and eliminate bottlenecks.
The offering makes sense given the direction that Verizon Business has been expanding its portfolio, said analyst Counse Broders at Current Analysis Inc. He pointed to the company's recent acquisition of Cybertrust Inc. and a partnership with Akamai Technologies Inc. as evidence that it has built a suite of tightly knit offerings that can provide as much or as little support as a company needs in a variety of WAN-related areas.
"I think this is a natural next step in terms of [Verizon is] protecting the data, now let's see what [it] can do in terms of optimizing it," Broders said.
A typical deployment will utilize a WXC device at each location, with a larger device at the head end and smaller devices at remote sites. The techniques have been optimized for TCP/IP acceleration, with extra optimization included for popular services like Exchange servers and SAP.
Chip Freund, director of managed service product at Verizon, said application performance improvement varies widely and depends on individual setups. Current deployments have seen speeds increase between 25% and 200%.
In addition to the deployment and maintenance of the WXC servers, Verizon gathers diagnostic data and provides monthly performance analysis on latency and performance benchmarks.
So which customers should consider Verizon's new managed service?
"It comes down to whether you have the people in-house to manage the service or not," said Melanie Posey, a research director at IDC. She said that rather than focusing on the size of the corporation, potential customers should assess their WAN situation in terms of staffing and proximity.
For companies in relatively small geographic areas or with only a few major centers that need WAN access, the service does not necessarily make sense. But if small or isolated offices span the globe, outsourcing WAN optimization might save a lot of headaches.
"You might have a whole lot of IT people at headquarters, where your data center is, but who's going to manage the hardware … at the branch offices?" she asked.
Broders said the managed service would likely find an audience with companies that are considering consolidating their existing networks, particularly as they look to solve multiple challenges for which Verizon Business has already developed offerings.
"We've certainly seen Verizon getting a lot of bang for their buck in the managed applications phase," Broders said. "[Managed WAN optimization] is sort of a natural extension to their portfolio, and really gives them another arrow in their quiver as they help clients shoot for their targets."