There are a lot of companies with point products for specific WAN
optimization and application acceleration needs. Certainly Cisco is among
those that play in the WAN optimization and application acceleration space
though for Cisco it’s about a lot more than just point products. With Cisco
it’s about building what it refer to as an Application Delivery Network.
As part of its application delivery strategy, Cisco is now rolling out a
series of products that tie together to handle application and WAN
acceleration for both office and remote users.
Among the offerings is the new entry level Cisco Application Control Engine
(ACE) 4710 Appliance; the Cisco ACE XML Gateway Release 5.2 and the
Cisco Wide Area Application Services (WAAS) Mobile. Cisco is also rolling
out a Data Center Assurance Program for Applications (DCAP for Applications)
that ensures that applications from leading vendors Microsoft, Oracle and
SAP will benefit fully from Cisco’s application delivery portfolio.
“Our approach to building application delivery technology is network wide
and tightly integrated with all components of the network,” Mark Weiner,
Director, Data Center Solutions, Cisco told InternetNews.com. “It’s
about application delivery networks and not about delivering point products.”
Weiner sees the current data optimization market as being at an inflexion
point where it is moving away from its original basis in point solutions
that stand on their own. He explained that the broader Cisco strategy is to
put smarts into the foundation and tie it into purpose built application
delivery products so you end up with an application delivery network. The
various components are all tied together with common mechanisms that
provide end to end visibility and reporting.
A key part of Cisco’s application delivery is found in its ACE (Application
Control Engine)product line which was first released
back in April of 2006. Originally ACE was just available as a module that
fit into Cisco’s Catalyst switching lineup. Now it’s also available in a
standalone appliance form factor. The new ACE 4710 is considered to be an
entry level ACE appliance with support for up to 2Gbps of application
traffic. Web applications in particular can benefit from the ACE 4710 with
Cisco’s FlashForward acceleration technology that aims to reduce network
Indrajit Roy Sr. Manager, Product Management Application Delivery Products
for Data Centers, at Cisco explained that the ACE 4710 uses asymmetric
“The asymmetric acceleration means the ACE 4710 sits in front of
application servers in a data center,” Roy said. “This allows for
optimization that makes the transactions up to 90 shorter in terms of
latency. The impact is very tangible.”
The ACE 4710 also makes use of virtualization techniques to virtualize the
application delivery pipeline as well, with the end result being better
utilization and optimization overall.
For those enterprises that are deploying SOA and XML types of applications,
Cisco is releasing the new ACE XML Gateway (AXG) Release 5.2. Roy noted that
the new AXG is capable of handling 30,000 transactions per seconds which he
argued is superior to other XML acceleration solutions in the market today.
XML acceleration appliance are now becoming increasingly popular. Among the
many vendors now entering the space is Alcatel-Lucent with its OmniAccess 8550 WSG (Web Services Gateway).
Remote acceleration for mobile
Cisco is also rolling out a new Cisco Wide Area Application Services (WAAS)
Mobile release to extent the benefits of acceleration to remote users.
“The WAAS mobile client has automatic agility,” Roy explained.
“So as it’s running on a laptop when you walk into your branch it will
automatically sense the local branch and put you through the local box
giving you even better performance.”
Roy noted that Cisco has been using the new WAAS release internally itself
for months with great success.
While the new ACE, AXG and WAAS products are each unique offerings, Roy
commented that the products are not isolated for one another. All the
products can interoperate with each other and there is common management as
part of Cisco’s overall application delivery platform.
With its broad offering affecting some very different aspects of the IT
infrastructure, a key challenge for Cisco with its application delivery
network strategy isn’t so much about the technology it’s about people.
“The challenge is expanding inside the base of customers that we speak too,”
Weiner said. “The solutions are spread across a range of departments in IT,
application owners, infrastructure people storage and servers and then the
traditional network teams we’ve sold to for so many years. It’s just sharing
benefits and getting alignment across these teams and getting approval