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Cisco Backs Into Optimization

4:15 PM -- One advantage of being a big company is not having to take chances. When it comes to new technologies, all you need do is prove you're involved in some small way, then step back and let startups create the market for you. By the time your installed base is ready to move, you're there with what they want (more or less).

Such is the case with Cisco's long-awaited WAN/WAFS solution, released today under the name of Wide Area Application Services (WAAS). (See Cisco Intros Services.)

While Riverbed, F5, and others were maniacally focused on the efficiency of WAN-borne apps, Cisco was taking it easy. Having bought Fineground and Actona in 2005 and 2004, respectively, Cisco was set with both WAFS and WAN optimization, and even though it hadn't really integrated the two, it was able to offer something to customers. (See Cisco Chomps FineGround and Cisco Joins WAN/WAFS in Name Only.)

Now that WAN/WAFS is all the rage, Cisco is ready with its pitch. To wit: Now that Cisco's shipped tens of thousands of Wide-area Application Engines (WAEs -- formerly Actona boxes), more than a million Integrated Services Routers (ISRs), and lots of load balancing, it's ready to combine all three. The fact that it all comes from Cisco, the network provider, ensures you won't have problems getting your applications to work with the appliances. VOIP, for instance, won't be thrown off by the use of WAN optimization for remote backup.

All this is significant for Cisco customers; for others, it's not such a big deal. What really matters is what this announcement says about Cisco, and about the market.

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