The days of the centralized corporate workforce are waning. In a recent briefing, Gareth Taube, Vice President of Marketing for Certeon (www.certeon.com), said that there's evidence that more than 60 percent of employees of major corporations are located outside of corporate headquarters. As businesses become more and more decentralized, they must learn to meet the challenges of supporting globally distributed workforces. Unfortunately, most companies have taken applications that were originally designed to run on a LAN and made them accessible to remote workers. "When you do that, the WAN gets in the way," said Taube. "Networks are usually bandwith-constrained, they have lots of latency, and they have lots of packet loss. Large documents can take minutes instead of seconds to move across the WAN, and that's painful. So people tend to replicate files and store them locally, which defeats the purpose of having a Web tool environment and tools such as SharePoint for collaboration."

About 2 years ago, a group of products called WAN optimization controllers sprung up to try to negate some of the impacts of the network. These products use various techniques, such as optimizing the TCP_IP protocol, packet compression, packet differencing, and Quality of Service, which identifies certain streams of traffic, and decides which stream is more important. Certeon has taken a different approach to WAN optimization with its S-Series application acceleration appliances that are preloaded with Certeon's Application Acceleration Blueprints for Microsoft Office System and Microsoft SharePoint Products and Technologies. These blueprints understand the semantics that Microsoft uses for SharePoint and knows what SharePoint objects look like. Therefore the appliances loaded with the blueprint can difference on the entire file as opposed to the pieces of the file that are made of packets, thus turbocharging the response time of the blueprinted application

"Companies have spent time and resources to deploy SharePoint in branch offices all over the world only to find they can't use them because of the network," said Taube. "With the Certeon solution, people are actually using SharePoint as their supposed to."

So what's next for Certeon? According to Taube, Certeon will be following the trends in the marketplace. "Virtualization is a very hot technology," he said. "Later this spring, we'll announce that Certeon will follow the industry trend led by Microsoft and others and allow for application acceleration in a virtualized environment."