Cisco Stands Behind WAN Optimization

Cisco is not leaving the WAN optimization market, but it is re-evaluating its position with ACE in the ADC market.

By Sean Michael Kerner | Posted Sep 24, 2012
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The WAN Optimization marketplace will continue to include Cisco. That's the official word from Cisco, in response to industry speculation that the networking giant was planning on exiting the business.

At the core of Cisco's WAN Optimization efforts is the WAAS (Wide Area Application Services) set of technologies which include both software and hardware solutions.

"WAAS is still growing strong and it wouldn't make any sense to stop investing in it," Inbar Lasser-Raab, Senior Director Enterprise Networking Marketing at Cisco told EnterpriseNetworkingPlanet.

Cisco officially launched new WAAS 5.0 software earlier this year including application visibility technology called AppNav.

The WAN Optimization market is growing somewhat slowly overall, according to a recent market report from Infonetics Research. Infonetics reported that WAN Optimization revenues for the market in the second quarter of 2012 were flat year-over-year. By Infonetics' measure, Riverbed leads the market by revenue with Cisco trailing in the number two spot.

While Cisco is not exiting the WAN Optimization market, the company has changed its operations model for the staff building the Cisco WAAStechnology. WAAS engineers have now been integrated into the Enterprise Networking business group. Lasser-Raab noted that WAAS software has been integrated with Cisco's ISR (Integrated Services Router) and CSR (Cloud Services Router) for months.

"One of the biggest differentiators for our cloud intelligence network solutions has a lot to do with applications and that's where the WAAS expertise comes into place," Lasser-Raab said.

As such, she noted that it made a lot of sense to integrate the WAAS engineering team into the same group that builds ISRs and the Cisco's networking portfolio. With the integrated teams, Lasser-Raab stressed that Cisco will continue to build and support both WAAS software and hardware. Cisco has a portfolio of standalone WAAS appliances in addition to the WAAS software that is integrated on the ISR and CSR platforms.

Lasser-Raab noted that there are a number of different deployment models for WAAS. For some Cisco customers, that model includes deploying a WAAS appliance next to a Cisco ASR router.

"We have the same technology embedded in dedicated appliances as well as integrated with our routing portfolio," Lasser-Raab said. "It provides customers with the ability to mix and match embedded and standalone capabilities."

ACE

While Cisco is not slowing down its efforts on WAAS, it is however shifting priorities when it comes to the ACE (Application Control Engine) application delivery controller technology.

Cisco first announced ACE back in 2006 as a module that plugged into Catalyst switches. By 2008, Cisco already had multiple ACE appliances in the market as well.

Cisco's official statement about ACE is that the company routinely reviews its business to determine where it needs to align investment based on growth opportunities.

"In assessing the data center market, which is undergoing a fundamental transformation with virtualization, cloud, and new service delivery models, Cisco is re-evaluating traditional load-balancing approaches, including its ACE product line, to ensure it continues meeting customer needs in this environment," Cisco said in a statement. "Cisco will continue to support our current product portfolio. Cisco is not exiting the market, but as the market is evolving we are looking at new ways to deliver our load balancing technology."

While some have confused ACE and WAAS, ACE and WAAS are two separate products.

Lasser-Raab explained that the main market for WAAS is the WAN optimization. That is application acceleration that is sold and used by enterprises that are deploying network branch connections to headquarters and branch to data center connectivity type efforts.

"ACE plays in the data center," Lasser-Raab said. "There are two similar concepts but different product lines sold for different situations."

As to why there might be some confusion between the capabilities of WAAS and ACE, she noted that the cloud is changing traffic patterns on the network itself.

"Networks need to change to adopt for cloud traffic and they need to optimize application performance on the network for application visibility and control end to end," Lasser-Raab said. "Cloud is associated with data center but it does have a lot of implications for the network."

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

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