Cisco Delivers Integrated Caching

Officials claim new module's Web caching function can significantly reduce WAN costs.

Cisco Systems Inc. hopes to nudge Web caching and content delivery networking closer to mainstream among enterprises with a new option for its access routers.

In a first for Cisco, the San Jose, Calif., company has created a module for the 2600, 3600 and new 3700 series of access routers that delivers integrated caching and content delivery networking capabilities.

The new modules Web caching function can significantly reduce WAN (wide area networking) costs by keeping frequently accessed content—especially graphics that arent changed often—local to remote locations.

The payback for such savings should happen fairly quickly, said a Cisco official.

Beyond helping to reduce WAN costs, Cisco will help customers save by incorporating maintenance for the module, or blade, within the router maintenance agreement.

For large installations, such savings can be sizable, believes industry analyst Lawrence Orans with Gartner Inc. in Stamford, Conn.

"The fact that they arent charging for maintenance is really significant. If you have 100 caching engines at $600 a year in maintenance, you can save a lot," he said.

At the same time, it can increase performance for branch office users working with Web-enabled enterprise applications from vendors such as Siebel Systems Inc. and Oracle Corp.

Up to now, Cisco offered users a separate cache engine in a dedicated device installed at the edge of the network for remote locations.

Although the module is about 25 percent to 30 percent less expensive than the dedicated device, Cisco officials believe some customers will still want the option to keep caching separate.

The new module, or blade, incorporates flash memory, a disk and a processor.

To assuage customers security fears, Cisco partitioned the administration functions for Web caching from router administration so that only appropriate technicians have access to sensitive router controls. The Web caching can be remotely configured.

The integrated caching option is targeted at enterprises with a large number of remote locations, such as retailers.

The content delivery networking capabilities are designed for enterprises looking to deploy software, kiosks, and e-learning applications or online training to remote users.

Gartners Orans believes that the integrated caching option—coming from Cisco—will give the fading caching market credibility it seemed to be losing in the last six months.