Silver Peak Beefs Up High-End Virtual WAN Appliance, Intros Free Version

The expansion of the company's virtual WAN appliance line comes as customers look for new ways to manage their data centers, said Larry Cormier, senior vice president of worldwide marketing for the Santa Clara, Calif.-based vendor.

"We are pushing the virtualized WAN appliance because our customers are pushing us," Cormier said. "Customers are deploying them into virtualized environments and into the cloud."

Silver Peak on Monday expanded its VRX-8 virtual WAN appliance, which primarily targets SAN replication, with the ability to run up to 256,000 simultaneous data flows, Cormier said.

When the VRX-8 was first unveiled in November, it was initially limited to 8,000 simultaneous data flows, he said. "It's because we didn't know how it would fare in virtualized environments," he said. "Since then, we've found that the hardware used for virtualization, including servers, storage, SSDs, hard drives, and memory, are all much more powerful and cheaper than before."

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The increased data flows are important as the use of virtual WAN appliances expands beyond their original SAN replication tasks, Cormier said. "In the past, the focus was on data center-to-data center connections," he said. "Now customers are moving more applications between branch offices and central hubs."

The VRX-8 also now supports the Xen and KVM virtualization hypervisors, which is an expansion of its earlier support for VMware hypervisors, Cormier said. Some of Silver Peak's entry-level WAN optimization appliances also support the Microsoft Hyper-v hypervisor, but it does not have the performance required for the VRX-8, Cormier said.

Also new from Silver Peak on Monday is the VX-Xpress, a free virtual WAN optimization appliance which provides customers with 4-Mbps network performance for a single site-to-site implementation.

Customers can use the VX-Xpress for replication, file sharing, and collaboration, and as a way to test the concept of virtual WAN optimization appliances, Cormier said. However, unlike other WAN optimization appliances, the VX-Xpress is limited to a single site-to-site configuration, and customers are being asked to work with community-based support instead of receiving vendor-provided support, he said.

Silver Peak currently gets about 20 percent of its revenue from virtual WAN optimization appliances, but expects that ratio to rise to 30 percent next year and as high as 50 percent in 18 months, Cormier said.

"The advantage of a software-only appliance is that it runs on any hardware," he said. "Some customers require NEBS (Network Equipment-Building System)-certified hardware, while some require military ruggedized hardware," he said. "We are not going to develop a hardware product like these. And since we have always been a software company, our technology can work with multiple hardware platforms."

Both the enhanced VX-8 and the new VX-Xpress virtual WAN optimized appliances are available. The VX-8 lists for $69,995 to purchase, or $36,000 per year on a subscription basis, which is less than the one-year maintenance contract price for a hardware appliance from the competition, Cormier said.