Charlene O'Hanlon

October 5, 2011

3 Min Read
Cisco Moves Deeper into WAN Optimization with WAAS Portfolio

Technologies such as cloud computing and virtualization are forcing many enterprises to take a good, long look at their WAN performance. So, too, are vendors, hoping to help companies get rid of the slow feeds and extended latencies associated with those new technologies that drag down the network. Now Cisco Systems is jumping feet first into the WAN optimization space with a revamped line of solutions.

“These technology trends, when taken together, put pressure on maintaining the user and the application experience,” said Dave Frampton, VP and general manager of Cisco’s Application Delivery business unit. “Companies are experiencing difficulties in [their data] having to traverse longer distances with higher latencies across the WAN. Simplicity, scale, and dealing with both rich media and new application topologies such as VDI will be key requirements to generating a positive user experience.”

The Cisco Wide Area Application Services (WAAS) portfolio consists of appliances designed to improve application performance and user experience for those bandwidth-intensive applications such as VDI, video at the desktop and cloud services. They provide as much as five times the bandwidth and support up to three times the number users as Cisco’s first generation of WAN optimization appliances.

“This line leaps forward in three key areas – performance at scale, best video/VDI experience and simplified deployment – which is what distinguishes these from the previous lineup,” Frampton said.

In scale, the WAAS family triples capacity and increases bandwidth and throughput “significantly,” he noted. “It enables technology to scale as bandwidth increases to build in headroom in networks. And with virtual services, we have enabled the appliances to perform multiple instances in a single platform. A company can have four services separate from the WAAS inside the same box. We’ve essentially created a single consolidated server and optimization footprint at the branch.”

Video and VDI are faster, too, he said, because “we figured out a way for the appliance to not have to store or cache one-sided traffic such as video or VDI at both ends. It senses only whether traffic is video or VDI and caches it only at the branch office. This method is a doubling of optimization and removes the bottleneck problem you can get when video goes to the branch office.”

Finally, Cisco has simplified deployment of the appliances to enable up to 66 percent fewer devices in the data center, Frampton noted. “This can dramatically simplify insertion of WAN optimization devices in the data center. Plus, it’s a big step forward and big step toward plug-and-play.”

Cisco is the latest in a string of vendors pushing WAN optimization into the spotlight, including Riverbed Technology, which recently added optimization of vSphere replication traffic on its Steelhead appliances to bolster virtualization performance. Indeed, WAN optimization is becoming more of a necessity for companies looking to get the most of their network or make the most of their switch to the cloud, representing a major opportunity for the channel.

The WAAS portfolio is available now starting at $6,500 for the low-end appliance.

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