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Expand Wakes Up to WAFS

Expand Networks Inc. became the latest wide area network (WAN) optimization vendor to enter the burgeoning market for wide area file services (WAFS) with the launch of a new family of devices today (see Expand Intros WAFS, CIFS Acceleration).

WAFS allows users in remote offices access to information from data center servers by storing replicated files on caches at the remote sites. The technology aims to improve file transfer times and enable remote users to continue working on files even if the network goes down.

Vendors like Expand, Swan Labs Corp., and Riverbed Technology Inc. are looking to combine WAN optimization and WAFS technologies in an attempt to grab market share from the likes of Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), which already offers an array of WAFS products (see Swan Revamps WAN/WAFS Kit and Riverbed Fords WAN/WAFS Divide).

Expands new devices range from the low-end, one rack-unit high 4920, which contains 160 gigabytes of internal disk storage for cached files, up to the two rack-unit high 6940, which offers 500 gigabytes of storage.

But the WAN optimization vendors are taking different approaches to tackling WAFS. Expand, for example, is offering Domain Name System (DNS), Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP), print, and fax services as part of its WAFS products. These aim to let users remove mail and print servers from remote sites.

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