Cisco targets application performance at branch offices

* Cisco debuts branch office wares

Cisco is set to introduce a product suite designed to help enterprise IT managers better manage their branch office operations.

Cisco's Wide Area Application Services (WAAS) suite includes multiple technologies - available in a variety of form factors - to address customer pain points in managing WAN traffic and application performance at branch offices. Cisco, which earlier this year announced its Application Control Engine (ACE) technology to improve traffic flow, says WAAS addresses application acceleration across the WAN, WAN optimization and wide-area file services. Cisco says WAAS can also help enterprise IT customers reduce infrastructure costs and complexity.

"We wanted to provide customers with technology to help them consolidate the branch, get rid of backup storage and preserve existing network services," says Mark Weiner, director for solutions marketing at Cisco. "WAAS will give customers a set of capabilities from the packet layer to the application layer across the WAN and it's all enterprise-ready."

The WAAS technology is software delivered on a variety of data center and branch office appliances. The WAE-7326 and the WAE-612 are aimed at data centers and the WAE-512 and NM-WAE for branch offices. While Cisco's ACE is a blade that resides in a switch deployed between a server and the WAN to improve traffic flow, WAAS includes the NM-WAE module, a product that fits into Cisco's 2800 and 3800 Integrated Services Routers (ISR).

The products plug into the network and are configurable, Cisco says.

"We have the flexibility for customers to be able to administer and monitor based on the roles and administrative policies," says George Kurian, vice president of Cisco's application delivery business unit.

Cisco says WAAS integration with Cisco IOS will help customers more easily add these technologies to their network and see results.

"WAAS combines a wide range of application acceleration, WAN optimization and branch server consolidating wide-area file services," Kurian says. "And those capabilities uniquely integrated with all the advanced services with Cisco IOS."

Entry level pricing for WA-512 series appliance is about $8,500 and the NM-WAE costs about $4,000 to start for Cisco ISR customers. The majority of WAAS products are generally available this week; the NM-WAE is set to ship by year-end.

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Copyright © 2006 IDG Communications, Inc.

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