Expand Networks takes WAN optimization virtual

* VMware-ready version of its appliance fits into data center consolidation efforts, Expand says

Scores of enterprises are trying out virtualization in the data center, lured by potential benefits such as improved server utilization, reduced OS licensing fees, more rapid deployments and lower power consumption. To tap into that trend, Expand Networks is going virtual. The WAN optimization vendor last week announced plans to release a VMware-packaged virtual version of its acceleration appliances.

Expand’s new VWAN Optimization technology doesn’t rely on specific hardware, but it provides the same acceleration performance that Expand’s physical appliances do. The goal was to provide WAN optimization and application acceleration technology that’s easy to tie into the virtual server infrastructure, says Efi Gatmor, CTO at Expand Networks.

“The idea is that you package the software itself and the operating system as a single entity, and you can then deploy it as a VM image, under VMware,” Gatmor says. “It’s the same functionality, the same capabilities, as the hardware appliances. We did some tuning when it comes to memory and performance, but basically it’s the same code. It’s just packaged as a virtual appliance that can be deployed over VMware ESX and VMware Server.”

Expand expects the technology to initially appeal to two main groups of users: Enterprises that are consolidating infrastructure and applications in the data center, and enterprises that have branch offices with unique physical requirements.

The data center consolidation scenario is a natural, Gatmor says. “In this kind of environment, we fit very nicely. You can run our image as a virtual appliance in the same ecosystem, on the same infrastructure, and you can manage it with the same tools.”

Expand’s VWAN platform also is a great fit in hostile and harsh environments where it’s not feasible to deploy a hardware appliance, Gatmor says. For example, a business might want WAN acceleration capabilities on an airplane, but is only able to deploy FAA-approved appliances onboard. Or, a business with an oil rig might be limited to deploying only appliances that have been hardened to withstand the harsh conditions.

“These kinds of companies already have very specific servers running in these environments. What they really need is our capabilities running on those specific servers,” Gatmor says.

The company is initially focusing its VWAN optimization deployment on VMware ESX and VMware Server platforms, Gatmor says. Down the road, Expand plans to support other virtualization platforms, such as Xen-based derivatives and Microsoft’s forthcoming Hyper-V platform.


Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

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