Cisco File Software Aims to Tame Distributed Enterprise

By Paula Musich  |  Posted 2004-12-10 Print this article Print

The application performance optimization software, gained in Cisco's acquisition of Actona, is designed to allow servers to be consolidated in a central location and accessed from remote locations over slower-speed links.

Cisco Systems Actona acquisition will bear fruit next week when Cisco launches its new Wide Area File Services offering. The application performance optimization software is designed to allow servers to be consolidated in a central location and accessed from remote locations over slower-speed links. Such consolidation has not been possible because of the latency associated with file-sharing protocols designed to operate across high-speed LAN connections, according to George Kurian, vice president and general manager of caching services unit at Cisco Systems Inc., based in San Jose, Calif.
"It addresses a problem with [Network File System] and other file-sharing protocols that dont tolerate latency over 40 milliseconds," he said. Network Neighborhood is another widely used file-sharing system that is sensitive to latency.
The Wide Area File Services software runs on an appliance called a File Engine. It uses a variety of techniques that allow the server to appear as if it is local to the PCs sharing files. The Actona-based product competes with similar offerings from Riverbed Technology Inc. of San Francisco and Tacit Networks Inc. of Palo Alto, Calif. Cisco completed its Actona Technologies Inc. acquisition last August. For many remote branch office applications, only a small percentage of data is "working data" that must be kept local. The rest of the data can be maintained in the data center to streamline administration, Kurian said. "It is a full protocol [Common Integrated File System] proxy to reduce the number of messages" that traverse the WAN, according to Kurian. Once an open file being accessed remotely is closed, compression techniques are applied when the file is closed and it is automatically sent to the data center-based server for backup. Cisco intends to eventually implement the Wide Area File Services function in a module that can run in Ciscos new Integrated Services Routers. That will happen "down the road," Kurian said. The software and appliance are available starting at $12,000 for 50 users. Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, reviews and analysis on enterprise and small business storage hardware and software.

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