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Cisco unveils next gen WAAS

Hopes juiced up WAN optimization appliances take back share from Riverbed

By Jim Duffy on Thu, 10/06/11 - 3:25pm.

At the Interop New York show this week, Cisco rolled out its next generation of Wide Area Application Services (WAAS) appliances for WAN optimization. Cisco's been fighting off advances from Riverbed in this market and losing share to its WAN optimization rival.

The new appliances and software might reverse course. They provide up to five times the bandwidth and support up to three times the users of previous generations of WAAS appliances in order to better support more media-rich content with improved quality. Other demand drivers for WAAS are virtual desktops, cloud services, video and mobile devices at branch locations.

Cisco says a single new appliance can allow an organization of 150,000 employees to simultaneously use virtual desktops over Apple iPad or other tablets. A WAAS appliance can also reduce the time it takes to download a PowerPoint presentation to the tablet of any user in a branch office from 30 seconds to one second, and also has the ability to simultaneously stream 400 high-definition videos to 150,000 employee devices, Cisco says.

The new appliances reduce the amount of hardware previously required for this by 66%, Cisco says.

The new WAAS appliances support both data center and branch office deployments. The new 694, 7541, 7571, and 8541 models are 10G Ethernet-capable and targeted at large branch offices and data centers. The 294, 594, and 694 appliances enable branch offices to deploy up to eight virtual services such as video, virtual desktops and Windows on WAAS, with five times the throughput of the previous generation, Cisco says.

Cisco's stoked about the new generation of WAN optimizers and the ability to perhaps gain back some market share from Riverbed, according a bulletin on Interop New York from investment firm UBS:

Cisco employees seemed "fired up" about the price/performance, software quality and throughput (e.g. doubling in data center product) improvements of the products. Cisco indicated additional announcements will be coming out from them in the near future. Clearly Cisco is aiming to recapture share loss in this segment which has mostly been at the expense of RVBD in the past couple of years. Cisco is also claiming flow and video performance advantages over RVBD with its 8541 product.

Cisco also announced new software for the WAAS appliances. WAAS v4.4 adds application intelligence to the software's data redundancy elimination feature, which is designed to allow customers to support a greater number of video or virtual desktop sessions from a single system.

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