WANs Hit High Gear


Cisco's new WAN optimization products come as part of its Data Center 3.0 strategy, unveiled at the Networkers at Cisco Live 2007 end-user conference in Anaheim, Calif., last month. The initiative aims to boost the efficiency of data centers by upping server utilization rates, effectively enabling customers to get more out of the equipment they already have.

The strategy calls for realtime management of virtualized server, storage and network resources, all tied in with security and application delivery.

"The role of virtualization, when you talk about where the industry is going, is huge: [It's] the ability first to be able to communicate to any server, any application, any content in your data center, and then to take that concept and drive it all the way through your home," said John Chambers, chairman and CEO of Cisco, San Jose, Calif., during a keynote at the event.

The new products include Cisco VFrame Data Center, a box that connects to the corporate Ethernet network and SAN to provision virtualized resources.

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A key piece of Cisco's data center strategy is its portfolio of WAN optimization and application delivery wares. Cisco launched the latest release of its Wide Area Application Services (WAAS) software, which adds new security features, while new software for its Application Control Engine (ACE) adds an XML gateway.

Cisco also is working with NetQoS to add end-to-end application response time measurement to its WAAS product line. "Now channel partners can deliver an integrated solution that can accurately quantify the before-and-after improvements and take that to senior management to justify a sale," said Steve Fulton, senior director of strategic alliances at NetQoS, Austin, Texas.

Cisco's data center technology enables server consolidation and helps customers cut costs, said Peter Castaldi, principal at Kovarus Technical Solutions, a Cisco partner in San Francisco. "We're working to help customers self-fund these projects with [power company] rebates and hardware cost savings. They're also saving on the software licenses they would need for each server, the tape costs and the overall management."

Other WAN optimization players also are expanding the capabilities of their portfolios.

F5, Seattle, last week revamped its Big-IP WebAccelerator product, adding new capabilities that give partners the choice to deploy the box as part of either asymmetric or symmetric solutions. That means solution providers have the option of deploying one box in the data center to speed delivery of applications accessed via the Internet or one box each in the data center and at a branch office to boost performance for users outside of headquarters.

And Riverbed, San Francisco, late last month launched Steelhead Mobile, a software client that aims to deliver LAN-like application performance to remote users on PCs and laptops. The software can accelerate Microsoft Windows file sharing by up to 95 times, with up to a 99 percent reduction in bandwidth utilization, the company said.