WAFS/WDS product roundup

By Kevin Komiega

—The market for wide area file services (WAFS), wide area data services (WDS), and WAN optimization technologies continues to grow as end users grapple with keeping distributed enterprises connected with fast access to applications and data over wide area networks (WANs).

The latest round of surveys from TheInfoPro (TIP) research firm shows that among Fortune 1000 IT managers WAFS technologies are in demand by close to 40% of end users surveyed, making it the third-hottest storage networking technology under consideration in enterprise environments behind data de-duplication and virtual tape libraries (VTLs).

The vendor community is responding with a constant flow of new hardware and software products for optimizing WAN bandwidth, speeding data traffic and access over the WAN, and centralizing the management of backup-and-recovery operations.

Here is a roundup of some of the latest announcements from several players in the WAFS/WDS market:

WAN application delivery specialist Packeteer is packing more power into a smaller form-factor of its WAN optimization appliance. The company has begun shipping the PacketShaper 900 (PS900), the next generation of its appliance platform for visibility, control, compression, and acceleration of application traffic in remote locations where space and power are at a premium.

The PS900 delivers the full functionality of Packeteer's larger PacketShaper models in a 1U form-factor. Features of the PS900 include the ability to monitor and troubleshoot performance, enforce quality of service (QoS) policies, and accelerate applications, application visibility and analysis, and support for multiple redundant WAN connections.

In addition, Packeteer also introduced the PS900 Lite, which offers the same technology as the PS900, but reduces the number of traffic classes supported and some of the detailed performance reports. The PS900 and PS900 Lite are supported by Packeteer's IntelligenceCenter central management and reporting platform.

The PacketShaper 900 and 900 Lite are available now, and pricing begins at $3,250 for the PS900 and $2,250 for the PS900 Lite.

As part of its recently announced membership in the ZipTie Open Network Alliance (ZONA), Silver Peak Systems has integrated its NX WAN appliances into the AlterPoint product portfolio, facilitating the centralized management of WAN acceleration appliances across large heterogeneous enterprise networks.

ZipTie is an open, multi-vendor framework for network inventory management that enables network administrators to discover, back up, and manage configuration details for any IP networking device, including routers, switches, firewalls, load-balancers, VoIP gateways, and WAN/application concentrators. The ZipTie project currently supports thousands of users and covers tens of thousands of devices with the aim of improving security and giving large enterprises a viable, cost-effective extension to vendor-centric element management systems.

AlterPoint's products are network management solutions designed to curb hardware over-provisioning, reduce specialized labor, lower the cost of compliance, and improve the availability of network services. AlterPoint's open CMDB combines operational and business data to automate, analyze, and optimize network change, compliance, security and equipment lifecycles.

Silver Peak's WAN acceleration appliances offer disk-based WAN de-duplication, which is capable of reducing more than 95% of WAN traffic and serves up data at LAN-like speeds across the WAN, according to company officials. Silver Peak's technology is commonly used to accelerate a variety of business-critical applications, including real-time data replication, remote backup, Microsoft SQL Server, file, e-mail, Web, voice over IP (VoIP), and streaming video.

Riverbed Technology recently launched a version of its Riverbed Optimization System (RiOS), the operating system that powers its family of Steelhead WAN optimization and acceleration appliances. With the introduction of RiOS 5.0, Riverbed is providing application-level protocol optimization for Microsoft Exchange 2007, making Riverbed the first vendor to accelerate Microsoft Exchange 2000, 2003, and 2007 over the WAN.

Riverbed's expanded support for Exchange 2007 also includes another first with protocol optimization specifically for the Exchange 2007 protocol (MAPI 2K7) at the application layer.

Additional upgrades include further performance enhancements of enterprise Web applications, such as SAP NetWeaver, Oracle, Microsoft and Siebel CRM, SharePoint, and Outlook Web Access (OWA), and other applications. The company claims users of RiOS 5.0 will see additional performance improvements of up to 10x for Web applications.

GlobalSCAPE is adding an Applicability Statement 2 (AS2) module for EFT Server to its product family. The module, which is expected to ship in June, allows EFT Server to securely exchange data in real-time with other AS2-enabled products.

AS2 is a protocol used to exchange structured business data securely on top of the HTTP or HTTP/S protocols. Any type of data can be exchanged using AS2, including traditional supply chain messages (such as purchase orders or shipment status between retailers), XML, flat files, spreadsheets, and CAD/CAM data. AS2 adds to the HTTP protocol by enabling increased verification and security using receipts and digital signatures.

GlobalSCAPE's EFT Server is part of a modular enterprise product that allows customers to expand functionality as their needs increase. Modules include Secure Ad Hoc Transfer, DMZ Gateway Server, Web Transfer Client, Auditing and Reporting, and AS2.

The AS2 add-on module extends EFT Server's ability to work with almost any file transfer client or standard. In addition to AS2, EFT Server supports HTTP/S, FTP/S, and SSH. The EFT Server's Event Rule-based processing allows it to interface with existing back-end and Enterprise Service Bus (ESB) systems.

Expand Networks is making it easier for managed service providers (MSPs) and enterprise branch offices to accelerate applications on the 3Com Multi-Service Router (MSR) Platform. Expand recently announced delivery of WAN optimization as a 3Com Open Services Networking (OSN) application on 3Com MSR Series routers. Jointly tested and validated, Expand Networks' WAN optimization solution can now cure congestion and latency issues on the WAN through integration with the network fabric via OSN.

Expand Networks' Accelerator WAN optimization appliances focus on performance, using low-latency techniques to optimize bandwidth usage by up to 1,000%, according to the company. Combined with Layer 7 QoS, Expand's solution includes technology to combat congestion, prioritize traffic, mark packets for downstream QoS handling (e.g., MPLS), and rate control shaping to make sure application flows get the bandwidth they need.

Blue Coat Systems, a developer of WAN application delivery and secure Web gateway products, is now offering the Blue Coat ProxyClient, a free WAN optimization software client with integrated security and control. ProxyClient software extends the company's integrated application acceleration, Web security, and policy control capabilities to the remote workforce.

ProxyClient includes byte caching and location awareness to optimize application performance for remote users and provides centrally managed Web filtering with anti-spyware and anti-phishing protection. The base ProxyClient software with WAN optimization will be available to customers who purchase ProxySG appliances. ProxySG customers licensed with Blue Coat WebFilter software will get the addition of remote Web control added on to the ProxyClient free of charge.

Blue Coat's senior product marketing manager for WAN Optimization Solutions, Jonathan Cervelli, says the software enables companies to establish controls over networks they do not own, including the Internet, ensuring performance and protection for remote users.

ProxyClient uses Blue Coat's WebFilter technology to enable centrally managed URL filtering to protect company-owned computers from Internet threats. Customers can enforce usage policies for users in any location and provide protection from known or likely spyware or phishing sites. ProxyClient makes use of Blue Coat's Dynamic Real-Time Rating (DRTR) service to make assessments of URL requests for new or previously undiscovered Websites and categorize them as potentially dangerous or inappropriate.

The ProxyClient software is available free of charge to customers with ProxySG appliances. Web security and control functionality require Blue Coat's WebFilter installed with licenses for remote users.

This article was originally published on April 28, 2008