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The worldwide market for application acceleration technology grew to $1.2 billion in 2005, a 36 percent spike over 2004, according to Gartner in a new report issued April 3.

The market is made up of application delivery controllers and WAN optimization controllers, although application delivery controllers made up a larger share of the overall market, according to Joe Skorupa, research directory and author of the report, “Market Share: Application Acceleration Equipment Worldwide, 4Q05 and 2005.”

Application Delivery Controllers generated $727 million while WAN Optimization Controllers generated $515 million in revenue.

In the application delivery controller segment, which represents a superset of Layer 4 through Layer 7 switches and content switches, F5 Networks “went past Cisco for the number one market position for all of 2005,” said Skorupa.

F5 Networks had a 30.5 percent market share versus Cisco’s 29.3 percent share.

Application delivery controllers are deployed in the data center to boost the performance of primarily Web-based applications as they are experienced by users working with a browser.

Although they originally provided server load balancing, newer generation appliances also provide such network- and application-layer functions as Secure Socket Layer set up, TCP set up, XML validation, transformation, and mediation between different trust mechanisms, according to Skorupa.

They will evolve to implement functions designed to boost the performance of SOA (service-oriented architecture) applications.

“They will be key to making SOA and Web Services work,” said Skorupa.

For WAN optimization controllers, more traditional traffic management provider Packeteer staged a bit of a comeback after uneven financial results throughout the year to take a leading 17.5 percent market share.

WAN optimization controllers, usually deployed at a data center or other high-traffic location and at remote locations such as branch offices, address performance issues caused by low bandwidth, latency and protocol limitations.

Click here to read more about application acceleration and WAN optimization.

Behind Packeteer for 2005 was Stratacache with 16.5 percent of the market; NetCache with 15.4 percent and Juniper Networks with under 10 percent.

Despite its fourth-place showing, up-and-comer Riverbed Networks “blew past” Juniper to take fourth in market share for the fourth quarter of 2005, Skorupa said.

Juniper had sales and marketing issues, which the company is addressing, he added.

Although functions implemented in WOCs vary by vendor, common across most offerings are compression and protocol optimizations for protocols such as HTTP, CIFS and MAPI.

Other functions sometimes include Web caching, route optimization, quality of service, and more.

Gartner is forecasting that total vendor revenues for this year will reach $1.75 billion.

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