In the first upgrade to the Wide Area File Services product since Brocade Communications Systems Inc. inherited it through its strategic investment in Tacit Networks in June, the company made significant changes designed to make it more responsive to the needs of large, decentralized organizations.
The revamped WAFS, based on Microsoft Corp.s Windows Storage Server 2003, sports two new features that company executives say will help increase automation at the branch office level while reducing costs.
Brocade initially shipped the product as it was when it was owned by Tacit Networks—with the caching technology and techniques to move files back and forth from a branch office to headquarters. The additional software Brocade and Tacit have added allows WAFS to handle remote print services in the branch office, traditional network-based services like DNS (Domain Name System) or DCHP (Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol) for Web access, Web caching, and e-mail consolidation, resulting in functionality that typically would require three or four discrete boxes at a branch office.
“Were trying to enable a large, decentralized organization to eliminate the need for IT-trained staff at branch offices to manage their files and network access,” said Tom Buiocchi, vice president of worldwide marketing at Brocade, of San Jose, Calif. “By putting more features in this product and allowing them to be managed by a central source at headquarters, were trying to remove the part-time sales manager who needs to do backups every night in the branch office or the systems engineer who is also a part-time IT guy.”
The first major upgrade speeds up the transfer of e-mail attachments through the wide area network.
“If someone sent an e-mail to all branch offices before, that e-mail along with its attachment would get replicated and sent to all branch offices. But now just the text of the e-mail gets sent to all branch offices, but the attachment stays centrally located at headquarters, automatically stored in the cache and easily accessible to everyone in the branch offices on demand,” Buiocchi said.
The new iteration of WAFS also supports stackable services—the ability to include functions like print serving, file management, e-mail management, print services, network services and Web caching in one box.
Brocades aggressive reworking of WAFS positions the company better in the marketplace—especially against competitors that have already headed in this direction, said Brian Garrett, an analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group, of Milford, Mass.
“Given the path they are on, I would guess they are heading toward making other things, like database applications, run faster,” he said. “Its purely a guess, but thats where some of its competitors are headed.”
Brocade sells WAFS, which also supports Microsofts Branch Office Initiative, both through its OEM network and through its channel partners. Channel partners sell the product through Brocades recently announced Tapestry Partner Program, which was developed specifically for partners selling the new Brocade Tapestry family of products, including WAFS and the Tapestry Application Resource Manager (ARM). The program offers partners a variety of benefits, including sales and technical training, sales guides, presentations and lead generation.
In other Brocade news, Hewlett-Packard Co. has chosen to integrate Brocades 4GB-bps SilkWorm products into its B-Series networked storage products. The SilkWorm 48000 Director will be part of the HP StorageWorks SAN Director 4/256, and the SilkWorm 200E Switch is part of the StorageWorks SAN Switch 4/8 and 4/16.
This story was corrected to clarify the relationship between Brocade Communications Systems and Tacit Networks. Brocade is an investor in Tacit.