Couldn’t make it to Las Vegas for VMworld 2011? Let us bring the show to you. Although we have no free iPad to raffle off or crumpled drink tickets to share, we can help you sort out some of the news from the noise that’s relevant to wide area network (WAN) managers this year.
WAN optimization vendors Riverbed Technology and Silver Peak Systems made a handful of announcements at VMworld this year about virtual WAN optimization as well as optimizing virtualization traffic over the WAN.
- Free WAN optimization software from Silver Peak — Haven’t you collected enough of those flimsy nylon backpacks from trade shows? Here’s some swag that should be more durable. Silver Peak announced the release of VX-Xpress, a free (albeit low-end) version of its virtual WAN optimization appliance, which doesn’t require you to be a customer to download it. The VX-Xpress has all the features of Silver Peak’s VX series virtual WAN optimization appliances, but it packs a fraction of the punch. The freeware is restricted to point-to-point deployments, tops out at 4 Mbps, cannot be used with Silver Peak’s Global Management System (GMS) platform and receives no professional customer support (hey, we warned you it was low-end). Support for the VX-Xpress will be handled on a community forum, but registration for the forum isn’t required to download the software. Larry Cormier, Silver Peak’s senior vice president of worldwide marketing, conceded that half of the people who download the VX-Xpress won’t ever turn into paying customers, but he clearly sees the glass as half-full since the software isn’t limited by a temporary license.
- But wait, there’s more (flows)! — On the other end of the spectrum, Silver Peak also announced upgrades to its highest-end virtual WAN optimization appliance, the 1 Gbps VRX-8, which was originally released late last year to optimize replication and disaster recovery traffic. Customers have since demanded that Silver Peak boost the product’s flow capacity from 8,000 simultaneous sessions to make it viable for hub-and-spoke headquarters/branch deployments, Cormier said. The latest upgrade raises that ceiling to 256,000 simultaneous sessions, reflecting the enterprises’ need to optimize higher-capacity WAN links that converge data, voice and video traffic onto shared MPLS links, he said. It also represents a bit of a role reversal for Silver Peak, which is best known for data center-to-data center WAN optimization.
- Riverbed accelerates vSphere Replication — Riverbed, best known for WAN optimization at the branch, also tried to show at VMworld 2011 that it can be a well-rounded WAN optimization vendor. With general availability of VMware’s vSphere 5 released this week, Riverbed announced its physical and virtual Steelhead appliances are ready to accelerate vSphere Replication, a new feature of vCenter Site Recovery Manager 5, which enables IT pros to backup virtual machine (VM) instances and any storage associated with them. Riverbed’s ability now to accelerate that traffic spells good news for WAN managers whose connections are getting maxed out by the bandwidth demands of VM replication.
Not a peep at the show from Cisco Systems on its virtual Wide Area Application Services (WAAS) appliance, and as far as we can tell, Blue Coat Systems wasn’t there to make news but instead demo the virtual WAN optimization appliances it released more than a year ago.