Blue Coat Promises Smoother Infrastructure Consolidation With Virtual WAN Appliances

WAN server virtualization infrastructure

According to Blue Coat, the difference between its ProxySG Virtual Appliances and other potential solutions is how the appliances deploy. Rather than create a virtualized environment for consolidating branch office applications and put those functions on its physical appliances, Blue Coat has instead virtualized the appliances themselves to run on servers such as Dell's PowerEdge and those by other manufacturers.

"It's delivered virtually as software, which allows us to run on industry servers from Dell, IBM, HP and others. We think that's key to deployment in the branch office," said Chris Webber, Blue Coat product marketing manager. "The most flexible solution out there is a software-only solution that runs in VMware. Most competitors will carve off some room on the side of their solution to do this that runs some of the things that are approved on their lists. We're saying: Here's the software, run it on whatever you want. This is our Mach-5 acceleration virtualized as software."

That's key to helping solution providers craft a more flexible solution with less proprietary restrictions, Webber explained.

"I like to use the analogy of a landlord who says you can live in this beautiful room, but now here's your list of house rules," he said. "If you like a traditional appliance, that's fine. But if you like to consolidate your offices and take advantage of a virtual solution, this is your speed. We think the two [types] can live in harmony next to each other."

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The Proxy SG Virtual Appliances operate in VMware vSphere environments, meaning they're also compatible with Windows Server, various unified threat management, intrusion prevention and VPN functions, and line-of-business applications that vSphere supports. According to Blue Coat, it worked closely with VMware to get the ProxySG certified VMware Ready, meaning it's been officially validated by VMware for use in VMware virtual environments.

The appliances come in four different models. VA-5s support up to 10 concurrent users, VA-10s support up to 50 concurrent users, VA-15s support up to 150 concurrent users, and VA-20s support up to 300 concurrent users. The software is priced by subscription, and the VA-5 models start at $1,110 a year.

"We're seeing an increase in managed services deployments -- it's commonplace now, and growing," said Jim Harold, Blue Coat's vice president of worldwide channel sales. "We thought this made a lot of sense for that, seeing as this is deployed on a branch server and in subscription pricing. It's going to be part of the further development of our cloud services, and for customers, part of the transition away from cap-ex."

Blue Coat is already offering the appliances through channel partners, including large resellers like Dell and Dimension Data, and they'll be fully available as of March 31.