Packeteer Gives Tacit Approval

Packeteer and Tacit join trend to partner for WAFS and WAN optimization

September 26, 2005

3 Min Read
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The worlds of wide-area network (WAN) optimization and wide-area file sharing (WAFS) took a step closer today with a new partnership between Packeteer Inc. (Nasdaq: PKTR) and Tacit Networks Inc. (see Packeteer, Tacit Ally).

But users are still undecided about whether they want WAFS and WAN optimization to be joined at the hip.

A number of vendors are currently looking to combine the bandwidth-scrunching features of WAN optimizers with WAFS applications' ability to eliminate the chattiness characteristic of IP networks (see WAFS vs WAN Optimization: No Contest, Expand Wakes Up to WAFS, and Remote Site Rapprochement).

Network specialist Packeteer and WAFS vendor Tacit are now getting in on this act. Mike Morford, senior technologist at Packeteer, told NDCF that the deal involves the two firms reference selling each other's products, as well as offering joint support to users.

The goal here is to plug a gap between networking and storage for users, according to Tacit president Chuck Foley. We thought we were competitors [with Packeteer], but customers say, ‘There’s 10 pieces. You have four, the others have six -- you better play together.’ ”But there are no plans to roll the different features into one box à la Riverbed Technology Inc. or Swan Labs Corp. (See Riverbed Fords WAN/WAFS Divide and Swan Revamps WAN/WAFS Kit.) Although Morford admits that he would, “never say 'never,' ” the exec feels that Packeteer’s customers would rather keep the two technologies separate. “People like to have one box that manages their storage needs and one box for their network needs,” he says.

With storage and networking often handled by different people in the data center, it makes more sense to keep WAFS and WANs apart, according to Morford. “Within the enterprise, there’s different silos of management -- we aim the products to be very focused on the needs that these silos have,” he says.

Foley echoes these sentiments: “Our choices were either boil the ocean and see if we can do everything, or get a strategic partner."

The two firms, however, will be doing joint development work, although Morford could not reveal the specifics. “The details of that are still being defined,” he says. But the exec did confirm that this is likely to focus on centralized management of Packeteer’s WAN optimization devices and Tacit’s WAFS boxes.

What do users think? Eric Beasley, senior network administrator at application service provider (ASP) Baker Hill Corp., agrees that it’s best to keep WAN optimization and WAFs on separate boxes. “It might end up being a bit more complicated, but it’s the best approach to use separate technologies,” he says.For one thing, Beasley feels, it is much more difficult to identify problems when different technologies are mixed together: “As you throw more and more things into a single box and you run into problems, you can get into difficulty trying to troubleshoot."

But one CIO from a Fortune 500 company, who asked not to be named, tells Next-Gen Data Center Forum that he is more inclined towards all-in-one devices. “We would probably be perfectly happy with one box if it did both well,” he says.

With data centers growing in complexity, the exec feels that deploying both a WAN optimization and a WAFS device could be more trouble than it is worth. “Generally, the less boxes that we have, the better,” he says.

Tacit, which only recently lost its place on Byte and Switch’s list of Top 10 private companies, has been chalking up big-name partners for some time now. These include the likes of Brocade Communications Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: BRCD) (which is an investor in the startup) and Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT). (See Top Ten Private Companies: Summer 2005, Brocade Invests in Tacit and Microsoft Gives Tacit Approval.)

— James Rogers, Site Editor, Next-Gen Data Center Forum, and Dave Raffo, Senior Editor, Byte and Switch0

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