Cisco pushes WAN optimisation

Cisco has extended its wide area network optimisation strategy with a new module, but insists it will not make war with Microsoft

Cisco has launched a network module which it claims will make it easier for IT managers to speed up access to data across a wide area network (WAN).

Cisco's network module, which was announced on Tuesday, boosts data packet transfer rates by stripping out 92 percent of the Common Internet File System (CIFS) protocol, according to Cisco. CIFS is a file-sharing protocol used for online collaboration.

The product will integrate into Cisco's Wide Area Application Services (WAAS) branch office networking software. The company claims that ease of integration with existing systems is the driving force behind its strategy.

"Single architecture integration — that's our calling card," said George Kurian, general manager of Cisco's application delivery business unit.

WAN optimisation is an key challenge for some companies, who want to allow employees to access corporate services from anywhere on the network. A typical example would be a firm with several branch offices, which hosts most of its application servers at headquarters.

Kurian claimed that Cisco is not concerned about Microsoft's partnership with Citrix to co-develop a line of storage products that will combine Microsoft's Internet Security and Acceleration (ISA) Server with Citrix's WANScaler network acceleration technology. He said hostilities would not break out between companies that historically have maintained a close partnership.

"We don't think there will be an all-out war with Microsoft," said Kurian. "We take a network-centric approach, while some take a server-centric or application-centric approach, which we think are complementary. We welcome competition, it keeps us focused," Kurian added.

Rich Link, Cisco's European sales manager for wide area application services, said that Cisco had "quite a headstart" on the Microsoft/Citrix WAN optimisation product, due for release in mid-2007.

"The component announced by Citrix runs on branch servers, which adds the complexity of server support. It's not a standalone appliance managed from a centralised operation like the network module," said Link.

Cisco will target a broad range of sectors including banks, insurance companies, manufacturers and the public sector. The company will continue to work closely with Microsoft and HP.