Nortel has launched its first branch office WAN optimization product, entering an emerging but crowded market.

Nortel’s Business Continuity System (BCS) is an appliance that sits on both ends of a WAN link to speed remote file access by branch office users.

Nortel is using Windows Server 2003 Release 2 and wide-area file services (WAFS) technology from Tacit Networks (bought by Packeteer in May) in the product.

Over the past year, the WAN acceleration market has been hot. Juniper and Cisco went on buying sprees in 2005, purchasing smaller companies with products that compress the size of files and speed protocols traveling over WAN links, as well as replicate data centre environments at branch offices. A host of companies — F5 Networks, Silver Peak, Blue Coat, Riverbed and Expand among them — are also releasing products in this market.

For its part, Nortel is introducing the BCS 3000 Branch Office and Data Center devices. The appliances sit at both ends of a T-1 or other WAN link, and behind network routers. The BCS 3000 Branch Office box is a modular device with a management processor and three slots for service blades.

Blade options include one that runs WAFS software from Tacit, which provides local file caching and replication of the Common Internet File System (CIFS) protocol environment used for remote access to Microsoft-based files.

Another blade runs an embedded version of Windows Server 2003 Release 2. Nortel technologists say this combination of WAFS technology and tight

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