Cisco Systems Inc. on Thursday will make its biggest play yet in the application acceleration/WAN optimization space with the launch of new offerings for the branch office and data center and the formation of a new business unit.
Cisco, four months after its acquisition of Fineground Networks Inc. in June, created the new Application Networking Delivery Business Unit, headed by George Kurian, vice president and general manager.
Along with the new unit, Cisco will launch the new data center-based Application Velocity System appliances—rebranded versions of Finegrounds existing offerings tested to interoperate with Ciscos Catalyst 6000 switch, its load balancers and application acceleration products.
The new pair of AVS 3180 and AVS 3120 appliances accelerate and optimize HTML or XML-based applications over HTTP or HTTPS.
They are now fully supported by Cisco and offer integrated monitoring and application firewall functions.
Cisco will also offer the application monitoring console as a separate product.
“So if customers want to start with understanding if they have a problem, they can just start with monitoring,” said Jay Mellman, director of market management for the new Cisco business unit in San Jose, Calif.
Cisco also combined its separate content caching and WAFS (Wide Area File System) offerings onto a single hardware platform and within a common software architecture in its new WAE (Wide-area Application Engine) for branch offices.
The new WAE, available on a family of appliances including the WAE-511, WAE-611, and WAE-7326, provides caching and application protocol optimization across a range of protocols beyond just Windows CIFS and NFS.
The WAE will also be offered as a network module for Ciscos Integrated Services Routers.
The WAE, which allows users to consolidate servers in the data center while maintaining higher performance for remote users across the wide area network, works with existing Cisco networking products and its IOS software.
The new offerings are the beginning of new integrated functionality in the convergence of security and performance optimization that the new Cisco business unit will pursue, according to Mellman.
“These are aggregation points not just for the optimizations we do, but also security—how the firewall and network access control are consolidating into those same places. Cisco understands there are certain things you want to do at each point, but not every point,” he said.
But unlike competitors such as F5 Networks, which combine all functions onto a single platform, Cisco will take a more distributed approach.
“Customers are asking us to help consolidate and improve management across all these devices to reduce the number of moving parts. But it is not at all clear they would want an SSL VPN terminating in the same box they have application load management happening on. They happen at different parts [of the network] and are managed by different people. They want to do it in an intelligent fashion that doesnt require IT tradeoffs to reduce the number of boxes,” he added.
Mellman asserted that the new business unit and its products will not overlap with Ciscos AON (Application-aware Networking) initiative.
“Application delivery focuses on the client-facing portion of these challenges. AON will be deployed in between applications in a server-less mode. We are working to understand points of synergy and how they can work together to accomplish what the customer wants,” he said.
The new AVS and WAE offerings are available now.