By Ann Silverthorn
Packeteer, which specializes in WAN optimization, recently acquired Tacit Networks, a company that specializes in wide-area file services (WAFS) and WAN optimization. The deal, which was valued at approximately $78 million, is a market expansion opportunity for Packeteer, adding branch-office server consolidation to its WAN optimization offerings.
Tacit’s WAFS product, Ishared, allows branch offices to eliminate their e-mail and file servers by consolidating them in the data center. Packeteer’s WAN optimization product, PacketShaper, allows organizations to manage their WAN traffic, compress data, and acceleration applications over TCP/IP links.
The companies already had a strategic alliance that consisted of joint development/sales/marketing, certified interoperability as well as a cooperative support agreement.
“The end-user community was saying that WAFS was necessary, but not sufficient,” according to Arun Taneja, founder and consulting analyst with the Taneja Group (which coined the term “WAFS”).
“Remote offices have more than just file servers. They have e-mail servers, Exchange servers, and a variety of other applications that need to be accelerated,” he adds.
Earlier this year, Tacit added its own WAN optimization feature, ARC, to its Ishared 3.0 WAFS software and appliance, which Packeteer considers complementary to its own WAN optimization technology (see “Tacit combines WAFS and WAN optimization,” InfoStor, May 2006, p. 14). Tacit’s WAN optimization technology is one of the reasons Packeteer pursued the acquisition, according to Mark Urban, director of product marketing for Packeteer.
“There is some overlap between the two technologies in TCP acceleration and compression, but Tacit’s data-reduction dictionary is disk-based and Packeteer’s is RAM-based,” says Urban. “The disk-based dictionary is a good complement to ours for very large types of bulk data transfers and data with very large patterns that can be matched and need hard disk space in order to provide good results.”
PacketShaper and Ishared will remain separate products in the short term, with the first priority being a central management console for customers that want to use both solutions. Further down the line, Packeteer will modularize the software on appliances and customize it for specific sites.
“The Tacit Ishared product is particularly useful for collaborative file environments and server consolidation, while Packeteer’s products have been used mostly in transactional applications, recreational traffic, and voice-over-IP applications,” says Urban.
Along with Tacit’s technology, its partnerships made it attractive to Packeteer. For example, Tacit had an OEM reseller agreement with Brocade, which sells Tacit’s WAFS products under Brocade’s Tapestry umbrella. Brocade is now Packeteer’s exclusive OEM distributor for WAFS products.
Packeteer also intends to leverage Tacit’s existing partnership with Microsoft to combine Windows-based WAFS with Microsoft’s storage technologies in Windows Server 2003 and Windows Storage Server 2003. Similarly, Urban says Packeteer plans to continue working with Softricity, which Tacit partnered with in November 2005.
Packeteer joins other vendors combining WAFS and WAN optimization (sometimes referred to as WAN acceleration), including Cisco, Expand Networks, Juniper, Riverbed, McData (a Riverbed OEM), and Signiant. Expand Networks OEMs its WAFS offering from DiskSites. Other representative WAFS vendors include F5 and Availl. Other WAN optimization vendors include BlueCoat, Certeon, Ciena, Citrix, Coyote Point Systems, and Silver Peak.