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WAFS Goes Into Orbital

Any line between wide area network (WAN) optimization and wide area file services (WAFS) just got a bit blurrier as Orbital Data added Microsoft's Common Internet File System (CIFS) acceleration to its platform.

Orbital today rolled out its Orbital 6000 series with upgraded software that includes CIFS acceleration for Windows-based applications. (See Orbital Data Unveils Family.) The new series consists of the Orbital 6800 for the data center and the Orbital 6500 for branch offices.

The move was no surprise, and comes a bit late in the game. Although CIFS acceleration is more closely associated with WAFS, other WAN optimization vendors combine it with their products as they try to combine the two technologies. Expand Networks added CIFS acceleration in August, while Riverbed Technologies and Swan Labs (now part of F5) included it from the start. (See Riverbed Unveils Steelhead 1.1, Expand Wakes Up to WAFS, and Swan Revamps WAN/WAFS Kit.) Cisco, DiskSites, and Tacit Networks make CIFS acceleration a major piece of their WAFS offerings.

CIFS acceleration is a key capability for streamlining data delivery to remote sites, the main goal of WAN optimization and WAFS. CIFS is designed for use on LANs, and often slows traffic on WANs because each read and write request is subject to network delay as it travels the network.

Orbital Data CEO Dick Pierce denies his company is late getting into WAFS territory already covered by competitors. He doesnt even consider Orbital a WAFS player with its new capability. Pierce maintains WAFS accelerates CIFS through caching, while Orbital does it by anticipating users’ requests, and reading and writing data blocks ahead of those request.

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