Juniper Speeds WAN Acceleration

Juniper rolls out new WAN acceleration appliances designed for better scaling and manageability. The appliances from Juniper, which competes with Cisco and others in the space, also fits into Juniper's common hardware strategy.

Juniper Networks is rolling out the latest generation of its WXC application acceleration platforms that company officials say will offer businesses greater scalability and cost-effectiveness.

The WXC 1800, 2600 and 3400 appliances, announced July 14, are aimed at a wide range of businesses, from smaller remote offices and retailers through midsize companies to larger enterprises' branch offices or small data centers, said Tim Richards, senior product manager for WAN acceleration at Juniper.

In addition, the 2600 and the 3400 also share a common hardware form factor, part of a larger company-wide strategy. The initiative, which includes not only the WXC product line but Juniper's entire product hardware portfolio, is aimed at keeping costs down not only for the vendor, but also for Juniper's partners and customers, Richards said.

Many hardware vendors have similar common platform strategies, all designed to lower the amount of inventory they-and their partners and customers-need to have on hand, lowering their costs and enabling them to pass those lower costs onto customers. The field replaceable units also simplify management and ordering for Juniper and its distributors. They also enable Juniper to reduce the amount of sheet metal and cardboard needed to produce, store and transport products, making the strategy an environmental play as well.

"We can manage more with less," Richards said.

With these latest WXC appliance releases, Juniper focused more on the hardware than on the software, Richards said. "We're taking the same software capabilities and just moving them to new platforms," he said.

As customer adoption of WAN acceleration technology grows, customers are looking for solutions that offer greater scalability and modularity. Richards said deployments of WAN technology has grown rapidly since it was first introduced in the late 1990s, and in particular over the past 12-18 months. Where once it was usual to see companies deploying 10 or 20 WAN acceleration devices, now it's not uncommon to see them deploy thousands of devices.

"That changes the game," he said.

Vendors like Juniper-which competes primarily with Cisco Systems, Blue Coat Systems and Riverbed Technology-are looking for ways to meet that demand by offering not only scalable technology but also capabilities to manage that scale. It's in the realm of manageability that Juniper really differentiates among the competition, Richards said.

Juniper has worked with businesses deploying thousands of WAN acceleration appliances, "so we know we can scale to that level," he said.

The expanding regulatory environment-with such regulations as the Sarbanes-Oxley Act and HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act)-is a key driver in the demand for WAN acceleration. With compliance needs growing, businesses are centralizing their disparate IT infrastructures into a few key data centers, Richards said. Once applications are centralized, businesses need to find a way to provide remote employees fast access to those applications, which ramps up traffic on the WAN, which in turn hampers network performance even more.

"Sometimes the traffic problem can be solved by [increasing] bandwidth, but bandwidth won't solve all the problems," he said. "Sometimes there just isn't any more bandwidth."

The new WXC appliances are designed to ramp up traffic speed. The 1800 cans accelerate WAN traffic up to 2 Mbps (megabytes per second), while the 2600 can speed it up 8 Mbps and the 3400 up to 45Mbps.