Cisco Accelerates the WAN with New WAAS

Making networks go faster isn’t just about having bigger pipes; it’s about moving data faster, often with the help of WAN acceleration technology. The market for WAN optimization appliances is a competitive one with multiple vendors including Riverbed, SilverPeak, Blue Coat and Cisco ally vying for share.

Cisco’s Wide Area Applications Services (WAAS) appliances are now getting a refresh, in an effort to further improve WAN acceleration and optimization. Cisco first entered the market for WAN acceleration with WAAS back in 2006. The new generation of WAAS appliances announced today by Cisco offer improved performance over their predecessors.

“The new generation can support up to three times the users we’ve support in the past, up to 150,000 connections,” Inbar Lasser-Raab, Senior Director, Borderless Networks Marketing told “We now also support five times the bandwidth up to 2 Gbps of traffic.”

The performance gains come from new hardware and software that Cisco is providing for the WAAS. One new technology in particular is something called DRE (data redundancy elimination).

“The WAN optimization solution identifies patterns in traffic that are repeating and then it caches that traffic,” Lasser-Raab explained. “So instead of transporting all that traffic over and over, DRE makes sure that it only provides a pointer to the cache.”

Lasser-Raab said that without DRE, WAAS could for example squeeze traffic down by 12 times. With DRE the traffic compression is doubled, as the system learn traffic patterns.

In total there are six new appliances including the Cisco WAAS 294, 594, 694, 7541, 7571 and the 8541 as part of the WAAS appliance refresh. Lasser-Raab noted that all of the units use brand new hardware as well as new WAAS software. For existing WAAS appliance owners, Cisco is not immediately providing any special offers to migrate to the new hardware.

“We expect our customers and partners to just start buying the new appliances,” Lasser-Raab said. “They’re all compatible, so if you have current WAAS and you buy the new ones, they’ll work with each other, so there is no need to rip and replace.”

WAAS is able to optimize multiple types of traffic according to Cisco. That said, the new lineup of WAAS appliances are not currently specifically optimized for VMware vMotion traffic for virtual machine migration from one location to another.

“The new appliances will help you, but right now we have the same level of optimization for all the virtual traffic types,” Lasser-Raab said. “What you’ll see moving forward is that we will have additional capabilities.”

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at, the news service of, the network for technology professionals.

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