Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) has made its first entry into the wide-area file services (WAFS) market, putting its stamp on the product Actona Technologies had when it was acquired by the networking giant in June this year (see Cisco Acts on Actona).
The Cisco WAFS offering consists of Core FE and Edge FE appliances, which enable data from branch offices to be held at a central data center yet accessed at rates higher than traditional WAN links can offer. According to Marcus Chambers,
director of Ciscos storage and optical business in EMEA, the gear operates at near-LAN speeds rather than native WAN rates, which suffer from all the signalling overhead inherent in CIFS and NFS."
The Cisco WAFS kit achieves better performance by caching and serving 95 percent of the signalling traffic it receives locally, leaving only security messages to move with the data itself across the WAN. It's an approach that is supposed to enable storage consolidation in a data center without the performance hit that serving data natively over the WAN implies.
An initial bundle of one Core FE and one Edge FE, sufficient to support 50 users at a branch office, has a recommended retail price of $12,000. A second Edge FE to connect to the same Core FE will cost another $12,000, but expanding the first Edge box to support 100 users costs $4,500.
Cisco's release sharpens focus on the WAFS market, which sources say is moving at a clip, though there are still just a handful of companies involved, including Riverbed Technology Inc. and Tacit Networks Inc. (see Watch Out for WAFS and WAN Accelerators Speed Up).