Cisco Expands Application Delivery Network

Networking giant introduces new application and network acceleration technologies as part of a broad strategy to optimize application delivery.

By Sean Michael Kerner | Posted Jan 22, 2008
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There are a lot of companies with point products for specific WAN optimization and application acceleration needs. Certainly Cisco is among those that play in the WAN optimization and application acceleration space though for Cisco it's about a lot more than just point products. With Cisco it's about building what it refer to as an Application Delivery Network.

As part of its application delivery strategy, Cisco is now rolling out a series of products that tie together to handle application and WAN acceleration for both office and remote users.

Among the offerings is the new entry level Cisco Application Control Engine (ACE) 4710 Appliance; the Cisco ACE XML Gateway Release 5.2 and the Cisco Wide Area Application Services (WAAS) Mobile. Cisco is also rolling out a Data Center Assurance Program for Applications (DCAP for Applications) that ensures that applications from leading vendors Microsoft, Oracle and SAP will benefit fully from Cisco's application delivery portfolio.

"Our approach to building application delivery technology is network wide and tightly integrated with all components of the network," Mark Weiner, Director, Data Center Solutions, Cisco told InternetNews.com. "It's about application delivery networks and not about delivering point products."

Weiner sees the current data optimization market as being at an inflexion point where it is moving away from its original basis in point solutions that stand on their own. He explained that the broader Cisco strategy is to put smarts into the foundation and tie it into purpose built application delivery products so you end up with an application delivery network. The various components are all tied together with common mechanisms that provide end to end visibility and reporting.

A key part of Cisco's application delivery is found in its ACE (Application Control Engine)product line which was first released back in April of 2006. Originally ACE was just available as a module that fit into Cisco's Catalyst switching lineup. Now it's also available in a standalone appliance form factor. The new ACE 4710 is considered to be an entry level ACE appliance with support for up to 2Gbps of application traffic. Web applications in particular can benefit from the ACE 4710 with Cisco's FlashForward acceleration technology that aims to reduce network delays with Web technologies like JavaScript files.

Indrajit Roy Sr. Manager, Product Management Application Delivery Products for Data Centers, at Cisco explained that the ACE 4710 uses asymmetric acceleration techniques.

"The asymmetric acceleration means the ACE 4710 sits in front of application servers in a data center," Roy said. "This allows for optimization that makes the transactions up to 90 shorter in terms of latency. The impact is very tangible."

The ACE 4710 also makes use of virtualization techniques to virtualize the application delivery pipeline as well, with the end result being better utilization and optimization overall.

For those enterprises that are deploying SOA and XML types of applications, Cisco is releasing the new ACE XML Gateway (AXG) Release 5.2. Roy noted that the new AXG is capable of handling 30,000 transactions per seconds which he argued is superior to other XML acceleration solutions in the market today. XML acceleration appliance are now becoming increasingly popular. Among the many vendors now entering the space is Alcatel-Lucent with its OmniAccess 8550 WSG (Web Services Gateway).

Remote acceleration for mobile

Cisco is also rolling out a new Cisco Wide Area Application Services (WAAS) Mobile release to extent the benefits of acceleration to remote users.

"The WAAS mobile client has automatic agility," Roy explained. "So as it's running on a laptop when you walk into your branch it will automatically sense the local branch and put you through the local box giving you even better performance."

Roy noted that Cisco has been using the new WAAS release internally itself for months with great success.

While the new ACE, AXG and WAAS products are each unique offerings, Roy commented that the products are not isolated for one another. All the products can interoperate with each other and there is common management as part of Cisco's overall application delivery platform.

With its broad offering affecting some very different aspects of the IT infrastructure, a key challenge for Cisco with its application delivery network strategy isn't so much about the technology it's about people.

"The challenge is expanding inside the base of customers that we speak too," Weiner said. "The solutions are spread across a range of departments in IT, application owners, infrastructure people storage and servers and then the traditional network teams we've sold to for so many years. It's just sharing benefits and getting alignment across these teams and getting approval cycles done."

Article courtesy of InternetNews.com

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