WAN Optimizers Add Security & DR

SSL and disaster recovery are looming large in the world of WAN optimization

October 24, 2007

4 Min Read
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This week has been a busy one for WAN optimization vendors, with Expand Networks, Juniper, and Riverbed making a slew of announcements around secure sockets layer (SSL) encryption, disaster recovery, and file services.


Juniper yesterday overhauled its WX and WXC family of WAN acceleration devices with a software upgrade aimed at securing data. "Any time that an application is SSL encrypted, we accelerate that," says Anil Rao, Juniper's director of product management and marketing.

Specifically, Juniper has tweaked its core WXos operating system to accelerate SSL encrypted versions of applications such as Oracle, SAP, and Sharepoint. "You would see dramatic improvements in terms of latency, speed, and operation," says Rao, claiming that this could speed up the delivery of encrypted applications by as much as a factor of 10.

Juniper is not the first vendor to go down this road. Rival Riverbed, for example, announced an upgrade to its RiOS software earlier this year in an attempt to speed up SSL encrypted data.Like Riverbed, Juniper stores the SSL certificates on a WAN optimization device in a central data center and pushes a temporary key out to machines in branch offices. "The keys are pushed out to the remote office device on a per-session basis through a secure [IPsec] tunnel," says Rao. "As soon as the session is killed, the key on the branch office device is killed."

Blue Coat was the first WAN optimization vendor to tackle SSL, although that supplier takes a slightly different "proxy-based" approach, whereby it does not actually touch the SSL certificates, which are stored on data center Web servers.

Other WAN optimization vendors are getting in on this act. Certeon also accelerates encrypted data, and Silver Peak will soon be adding the ability to terminate SSL traffic to its NX Series devices.

As well as the ability to handle encrypted SSL data, Juniper is also adding support for Microsoft's Vista operating system and Server Message Block (SMB)-signed traffic to WXos. SMB signing can prevent 'man-in-the-middle' attacks by ensuring that data packets have not been changed between the client and server.

Version 5.5 of WXos will be available next month as a free upgrade to existing Juniper WAN optimization customers.Disaster Recovery

Another vendor overhauling its software this week is Riverbed, which took the wraps off version 4.1 of its RiOS operating system, aimed at bulking up the vendor's data center story.

"People have used our technology for doing backups from remote sites for years now," says Apurva Dav, Riverbed's director of product marketing, explaining that the vendor is now focusing its attention on disaster recovery between its Steelhead appliances located in different data centers.

"With disaster recovery you tend to be looking at very large amounts of sequential data," he says, adding that Riverbed has tweaked its OS to recognize this type of traffic. "It's basically recognizing a large load of traffic on a DR link [and] it will switch into a mode where it utilizes [Steelhead's] disk and our WAN optimization algorithms in a different way."

"I am not aware of any WAN optimization players that are doing this at the moment," says Taneja Group analyst Arun Taneja, explaining that the software could help users slash their backup times.The end result is that disaster recovery traffic can now be sent much quicker from Steelhead to Steelhead, according to Davé, with the vendor touting the ability to speed disaster recovery traffic by a factor of 12.

Riverbed is also launching high-end hardware as part of its DR push. The Steelhead 6120, unveiled this week, offers more than double the disk capacity of the vendor's previous high-end offering, the 6020. With 3.1 Tbytes of usable disk and 7 Tbytes of raw capacity, the three-rack-unit-high 6120 dwarfs the 6020's 1.4 Tbytes and 3.4 Tbytes.

At $119,995, the 6120, which will be available next month, is the same price as the 6020, but it offers just 4,000 TCP connections, compared to its predecessor's 40,000. "In data center to data center communications, you're not opening up as many TCP connections as you are in data centers to remote offices," says Davé, adding that the 6120's disk capacity was enlarged with disaster recovery in mind.

The vendor could not provide any customer references for the 6120 or RiOS 4.1, although Taneja says he had spoke to two early adopters who used the products to cut their backup times by a factor of 12.6 and 5.6, respectively.

File ServicesWAN optimization vendor Expand Networks today teamed up with file server specialist BlueArc in a technology partnership built around file access.

Under the terms of the deal, Expand has certified BlueArc's Titan 2000 family of NAS and SAN devices, and BlueArc has certified Expand's WAN optimization product line.

Initially, the firms are looking into the possibility of pursuing joint sales opportunities in EMEA, although Expand told Byte and Switch that it hopes to pursue the deal as a global alliance.

Have a comment on this story? Please click "Discuss" below. If you'd like to contact Byte and Switch's editors directly, send us a message.

  • BlueArc Corp.

  • Blue Coat Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: BCSI)

  • Certeon

  • Expand Networks Inc.

  • Juniper Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: JNPR)

  • Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT)

  • Oracle Corp. (Nasdaq: ORCL)

  • Riverbed Technology Inc. (Nasdaq: RVBD)

  • SAP AG (NYSE/Frankfurt: SAP)

  • Taneja Group0

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