Silver Peak Bets Big On Virtual WAN Op With New Customer Upgrade Program

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Silver Peak's new upgrade program is meant to accelerate both its own, and its customers', transition to software-based WAN appliances. The program works by allowing any Silver Peak customer to upgrade their WAN optimization hardware to an equivalent Silver Peak virtual software product for free.

Specifically, the deal allows any customer with a valid maintenance contract for Silver Peak's NX-series hardware to move to an equivalent model within the virtual VC-series line. It's not a trade-in program, Hughes noted, meaning customers don't have to send their hardware appliance back to Silver Peak to qualify. Instead, they just log onto Silver Peak's support portal, and register for the program through a link that says "Convert to Virtual."

"This is really Silver Peak putting our money where our mouth is in terms of really wanting to partner with our customers and help them through this transition," Hughes said.

Silver Peak's big bet on software is backed by industry research. Dell'Oro Group's recent Data Center Appliance Report, for instance, projected the virtual WAN optimization market to grow 100 percent in 2013, while the overall WAN market is only expected to grow 6 percent.

Silver Peak's VX-series line can run on standard x86-based servers and supports hypervisors, including VMware's vSphere, Microsoft's Hyper-V, Citrix XenServer and KVM. The line today ranges from the lower-end VX-500, which Silver Peak said is optimized for smaller networks and delivers up to 2 megabits per second (Mbps) of throughput, to the higher-end VX-7000 for data centers, regional offices and disaster recovery (DR) sites, which can accelerate throughput up to 200 Mbps.

Overall, Silver Peak says its virtual appliances allow customers to transfer data up to 90 times faster than they could in existing infrastructures.

Silver Peak sells almost entirely through the channel, and staged an overhaul of its partner program in late 2011. Called Silver Peak Champions, the program offers gold and platinum partnership levels, both of which have access to field resources, sales enablement and marketing tools.

Hughes said Silver Peak's new focus on software aligns with the channel's own shift toward virtualized network services and software, as seen through the burgeoning software-defined network trend. What's more, he said a lot of Silver Peak's solution provider partners have roots in the storage industry, which is also gravitating toward virtualization.

"If you look at a lot of our channel, there is a slant toward storage. Often, our solution is sold as a way of accelerating replication or reducing backup times, so, often, the use case goes hand in hand with a storage problem," Hughes said. "And what we've seen is that the storage channel is pretty in tune to what's going on with virtualization and pretty open to deploying software solutions."

Despite this new shift toward software, Hughes said Silver Peak will continue to support its legacy NX-series line of hardware. He also said he will likely act as the company's CEO for the next "year or two" as it continues with this transition.


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