Silver Peak

Startup joins speed craze, but pricing may be a barrier

October 28, 2006

4 Min Read
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Speed is becoming critical for IT managers as they look to share applications between data centers and branch offices. This, in turn, has prompted a flurry of activity from WAN optimization vendors, although the cost of the technology remains a stumbling block for some users.

Next week, for example, Silver Peak Systems will take the wraps off its high-end NX 8500 device, which it claims will offer users almost three times the performance of its previous high-end box, the NX 7500. (See Top 10 Startups to Watch, Silver Peak Enters WAN Arena, and Silver Peak Starts Up.)

Other suppliers are getting in on this act. Next week Juniper will unveil its own high-end WAN optimization box, the WXC 590, which, according to the vendor, can support up to 45 Mbit/s of throughput. This figure, however, is based on internal testing and customer feedback.

Juniper's previous offering, the WXC 500, could handle 20 Mbit/s. The vendor is also expected to make announcements about new routing and application front end technologies next week. (See Juniper Outlines Strategy, Juniper Helps BE&K , Sublime Accelerates With Juniper, and Paccess Selects Juniper.)

Riverbed, for its part, recently gave its Steelhead devices a speed boost, and last week the company announced that Liz Claiborne has deployed the technology at 37 sites across North America, Asia, and Europe. (See Riverbed Intros Solutions, Claiborne Deploys Riverbed, and Riverbed Details IPO .)All three vendors are clearly looking to tap into users' desire for high-speed wide-area networking. (See Users Rally Round Remote Solutions.) "They need boxes that are bigger and higher throughput," says Craig Stouffer, Silver Peak's vice president of marketing. "One of the big drivers is pulling servers out of branch offices."

According to Stouffer, the 8500 offers 500-Mbit/s application throughput, supporting the likes of TCP optimization, quality of service, compression, and data reduction. This compares to the 155-Mbit/s offered on Silver Peak's 7500 device. These figures are based on internal testing and feedback from customers.

Silver Peak is putting the 8500 up against Riverbed's Steelhead 6020 device, which offers 310-Mbit/s, a figure also based on internal testing and customer feedback. Running a limited set of features, however, both boxes can scale up to 800-Mbit/s, the vendors claim.

At least one user thinks that speed is now the name of the game in the WAN optimization space. "Anytime you're able to get more performance out of the bandwidth you're given, it's a great benefit," says Chris Cramer, a network engineer at Carmel, Ind.-based systems integrator Baker Hill.

The exec, who previously worked in a hospital IT department, feels that the technology is particularly relevant to the health sector. (See Kindred Healthcare, Harvard Steps Up to Data Protection, and Hospital Skirts Compliance Meltdown.) "With a large number of healthcare firms being bought by parent companies, wide area networking is a very large part of the healthcare IT industry."In this scenario, high-speed WAN optimization technologies could be particularly relevant for database applications, according to Cramer. "This could be of use for poorly written database applications that require large amounts of data to be transferred [across the WAN]."

But whether users could afford the list price of $129,995 for the Silver Peak 8500 or $119,000 for the Riverbed 6020 is another matter. "In the hospital I came from, that could be a bit pricey," says Cramer.

Over at Riverbed, Eric Wolford, the vendor's vice president of marketing, points to his company's 1,000-plus customers as evidence of users' willingness to part with their dollars. The exec told Byte and Switch that he is also seeing demand for the high-end 9020 clustering device that Riverbed launched recently. (See Riverbed Scales Up.) "There are 400,000-person type organizations out there that need that kind of scale."

Silver Peak, however, has only a handful of publicly announced customers and was unwilling to name any of the half dozen firms beta testing the 8500. "We're starting to see a lot of interest from managed service providers."

As part of next week's announcement, Silver Peak will also unveil a set of security features for its NX appliances, including 128-bit encryption for data at rest and IPSec encryption for data moving across the WAN.The 8500 will be available by the end of this year, Silver Peak execs state.

Pricing for Juniper's WXC 590, which is available now, starts at $24,995.

James Rogers, Senior Editor, Byte and Switch

  • Juniper Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: JNPR)

  • Riverbed Technology Inc. (Nasdaq: RVBD)

  • Silver Peak Systems Inc.

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