Blue Coat: Creating An Economic Advantage For Users In 2009?

John Kindervag

Last week, Blue Coat gathered analysts in New York City for its Application Delivery Network Briefing Event to showcase its newest offerings, some of which are not yet released, and give the analyst community an update on where things stand following the company’s acquisition of Packeteer, completed in June of 2008.

Long story short? The vendors’ roadmaps have merged and it seems Blue Coat is doing a solid job of integrating the visibility and deep traffic inspection messages of the PacketShaper products with its caching, optimization, and security messages. Prior to the Packeteer acquisition, while Blue Coat offered a solid secure gateway and caching story, the true level of traffic visibility and optimization it could provide was limited.

Interesting for IT Operations and Security Professionals, the two product lines remain separate, though branding will merge in the second half of 2009. This could create either a dilemma or an opportunity for Blue Coat in the current economy when companies are being forced to show faster ROI with less investment upfront. The PacketShaper/ProxySG product split means that an organization can adopt one element of the solution at a time, dialing up investment as need dictates. That said, we’d like to see a converged appliance, though the processing power such a box would require, not to mention OS rationalization across at least three product-based operating systems would be complex at best. We’ll have to see how it all plays out.

For security and risk professionals, being able to create alliances with the IT OPS folks may allow exiting Blue Coat proxy customers expand their deployments beyond web content filtering and caching. The fact that the Mach 5 wan optimization features are built into ProxySG’s base OS means that both Security and OPS may be able to leverage the same hardware in these economic times. For companies just now looking at web proxy and wan op solutions, Blue Coat may have serendipitously timed the market just right.

We’re looking to the future to see whether Blue Coat moves more aggressively to offer virtual products aimed at networking infrastructure vendors that are looking to virtualize more services on fewer pieces of hardware – no word on this yet. Such a strategy, paired with a cloud-based offering, where companies can pay by the drink, especially for optimization services, would truly differentiate Blue Coat, who has seen its product line - already working to gain traction around the idea of an application delivery network, as a departure from pure WAN optimization, in the wake of other players in the market such as F5, Cisco and Citrix - gain competition from the recent Riverbed-Mazu acquisition.

By Chris Silva and John Kindervag

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