Cisco has updated its Wide Area Application Server software WAAS so that it provides WAN optimization and application acceleration. While WAN connections speeds have been increasing, the amount of traffic flowing over the WAN is increasingly faster. Organizations often can't afford to provide the enough WAN capacity to meet demand. WAN optimization and application acceleration use a variety of techniques to speed up application delivery to end users. Cisco's enhancements to WAAS are keeping the product competitive with competitors like Citrix and F5, and they are a bigger benefit to existing WAAS customers.
Service Ready Engines (SRE) modules run on the Integrated Services Router (ISR) generation 2 hardware. The WAAS can be installed and activated remotely on the SRE -700 and SRE-900 without having to send a tech to the remote site. Running WAAS on the ISR SRE module also closely couple the application delivery with routing and reduces the amount of hardware required at the branch office.
The new WAAS appliances have been certified for Windows Server Virtualization Validation Program (SVVP) running Windows Server 2008 R2. Dubbed Windows on WAAS (WoW), the WAAS appliance could only run a limited number of services like Active Directory, DHCP, DNS and print services on the WAAS appliance. With the SVVP certification, WoW can run any Windows application and you can get support from Cisco and Microsoft. In the rush to consolidating branch functions, WoW makes sense. This provides competition to the likes of Riverbed, who also can run virtual machines on their optimization appliances.
WAAS Mobile 3.5 can be deployed on cloud infrastructures so that cloud based applications can be optimized. Mobile 3.5 has been tested with Amazons EC2, but should work with others services as well. Cisco is following in the steps of Citrix, F5 and other application delivery vendors that have virtual appliances that allow IT to provide app acceleration services to applications residing in cloud services as well as in the data center.
Cisco added high availability with serial in-line clustering. The WAAS appliances are installed inline with the network one behind the other, so that one in the event one WAAS fails, the other one can take over without losing connections. Since all traffic flows through both WAAS appliances, they both know where the traffic is to be optimized. Other HA configurations such as active/passive side-by-side deployments often mean in the event of failure, the existing connections have to be reestablished resulting in service failure.