WAN acceleration gear grows up

* Businesses can expect to face a wide and confusing array of choices when seeking the right WAN acceleration gear

WAN acceleration gear grows up

By Tim Greene

Businesses should expect to face a wide and confusing array of choices when seeking the right WAN acceleration gear to make transaction times tolerable as they shift from branch office servers to centralized server farms.

Centralization reduces the number of servers and so saves capital and maintenance costs, and improves security. But it also means more end users access data via the WAN - users who will scream if performance degrades as a result.

Availl, Cisco and Brocade offer products tuned to speed up specific types of WAN traffic - wide-area file services or WAFS - which represent a large chunk of the new WAN traffic that results when servers are centralized. But a throng of other vendors says its more broadly focused gear is better suited to real customer needs. All WAN traffic can benefit from acceleration, they say, and not all WAN traffic is WAFS.

This more broadly focused equipment can boost the performance of a range of network traffic, not just WAFS, although some vendors are tuning their gear so it gives special treatment to WAFS, as well. These WAN-acceleration vendors include Array Networks, Converged Access, Expand, Juniper, Orbital Data, Packeteer, Riverbed Technology, Silver Peak Systems, Swan Labs and others.

As an example of this tweaking for WAFS, Packeteer this week is announcing a software download for its PacketShaper appliances that can target priority treatment for Microsoft Windows Server 2003 R2, as well as Active Directory, Exchange and distributed component object model traffic. Packeteer also is teaming with Tacit Networks to provide a separate Tacit appliance that caches data in branch offices as a way to speed WAN transactions. 

For the whole story, including a look at the pros and cons of some WAN optimization options, go to: http://www.networkworld.com/news/2005/100305-wan-acceleration.html?rl

Tim Greene is a senior editor at Network World, covering virtual private networking gear, remote access, core switching and local phone companies. You can reach him at tgreene@nww.com
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Copyright © 2005 IDG Communications, Inc.

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