Window on WANs

Aug 30 2011   8:11PM GMT

Did you say free WAN optimization software? Now that’s VMworld swag

Jessica Scarpati Jessica Scarpati Profile: Jessica Scarpati


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.

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.

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