This week's WAN Optimisation conference in London marked a major turning point in the field. In fact, I think it was the first time that it was truly possible to refer to WAN optimisation as a coherent field or market segment.

Highlights of the day included eight - yes, eight! - vendors sitting together on a panel debate, to acknowledge their (and your) shared challenges and take questions from the audience.

Of course, as one of them - Mark Lewis of Riverbed - pointed out to me later, it's also a sign of growing maturity in their sales and marketing.

After all, if only 2 percent of the organisations that could use this gear have actually bought into it so far, is it more profitable to argue with your rivals over that 2 percent, or to reach out to the 98 percent - which includes many of the people reading this - who haven't invested yet?

It's far better, he said, to think in terms of "co-opetition" - co-operative competition - and yes he did apologise before using the word.

Most of the users and potential users present seemed to find it really useful to have so many suppliers together in one room.

OK, some of the techies I heard from thought it wasn't techie enough, and some of the non-techies thought it wasn't business-focused enough, but that's actually a good sign because it means both sides of the business now see the need for WAN optimisation technology.

With a bit of luck, it also means that next year's conference will see parallel tracks for technology and business.

So, well done you pioneers - both speakers and attendees - and I look forward to seeing even more of you at next year's conference!