Cisco Systems says that while it can see the logic of developing a software client to enable WAN optimization and app acceleration to laptops, it is in no hurry to do so, and questions how great the take-up has been for competitors’ offerings.
Riverbed, Citrix, Blue Coat, F5, Expand, Packeteer, and Juniper all have or are developing laptop clients for their respective offerings, but Cisco thinks it’s all a bit premature. We’ve spoken to our customers and concluded that they’re not ready for such technology yet, said Mark Weiner, director of product marketing for application networking at the San Jose, California-based vendor.
He cited recent reports by both TheInfoPro (TIP’s Technology Heat Index) and the Taneja Group that supported Cisco’s own opinion that it’s probably still 12 to 24 months away. Weiner said one of the issues at the moment is that the purchasing centers for desktop technology and WAN optimization are quite different, with the desktop team resisting any moves to put another client on the machines in their charge. I would question the take-up [of laptop clients for WAN optimization] in the market today, he said.
He said that is not to say that Cisco has no intention of ever developing a client. We don’t dismiss the technology, but we believe the biggest requirement right now is security, he said.
Pretty much every other vendor of note in the optimization/acceleration space has either already launched a laptop client. Some companies gain the capability through acquisition, such as Packeteer (the Mobiliti client via Tacit), Citrix (the Jibe client via Orbital), and Blue Coat (added optimization/acceleration to the Permeo SSL VPN client), while others like Riverbed and Juniper are developing in-house.
Cisco, on the other hand, chooses to swim against the tide, or at least to say that the market’s not ready for laptop clients just yet. This is not the same stance as say Siilver Peak, which mulled such a move but decided against it in order to focus entirely on the high-end, data center market where it feels it has greatest differentiation, or Zeus, which offers asymmetrical optimization/acceleration for location in a data center.
Cisco appears to be saying that it will have a laptop client in the fullness of time, but has other more urgent fish to fry in the short term. Let’s see whether the other vendors populate the market with their laptop clients instead during this window of opportunity. Presumably, companies that have already decided to go with Cisco’s optimization/acceleration technology for the branch office are prepared to wait, but customers who are surveying their options may be swayed by one of the competitors’ offerings if they need laptop clients now. The reports Weiner quotes suggest that the percentage of customers in that category is small enough that Cisco can afford to prioritize other features.