Silver Peak unveils free WAN accelerator

FRAMINGHAM, Mass — Silver Peak Systems Inc. has introduced free, downloadable low-end wide area network (WAN) acceleration software that can turn two x86 servers into data replication devices.

The Santa Clara, Calif. company also announced Monday an updated version of its flagship high-end virtual WAN acceleration software.

Silver Peak’s free WAN software, dubbed VX-Xpress, is based on the Virtual Acceleration Open Architecture (VXOA) platform the company announced last month.

The VXOA software also powers Silver Peak’s NX, VX, and flagship VRX WAN acceleration products.

VX-Xpress is an entry-level product aimed at organizations just starting WAN optimization, or at small branch or remote offices of larger companies.

The product leverages the same WAN optimization techniques as Silver Peak’s higher-end products by using protocol acceleration, and adjusting TCP window sizes and selective TCP acknowledgements to reduce network “chattiness.”

Silver Peak VX-Xpress supports 4 Mbps of WAN bandwidth with 8,000 simultaneous sessions.

A VX-Xpress-based appliance can be used to optimize backup and recovery applications such as asynchronous backup/replication tools from several vendors, including EMC Corp. [NYSE:EMC],  Hitachi Data Systems, Dell Inc. [Nasdaq: DELL], NetApp, Hewlett-Packard Co. [NYSE:HPQ] and IBM Corp. [NYSE: IBM].

Such an appliance can also be used to optimize TCP applications, such as Microsoft Windows file sharing, Microsoft Exchange, Microsoft SharePoint, Lotus Notes/Domino, Siebel, SAP, and Oracle, or interactive applications, such as Virtual Desktop Infrastructures (VDI), Citrix XenApp, Sunray, and Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP), as well as non-TCP applications, like voice-over-IP (VoIP) and video streaming.

“We’re limiting [VX-Xpress] to point-to-point, so only two virtual appliances can talk to each other. Also, it’s not supported by our management system [software], which is built for large networks with multiple devices,” said Larry Cormier, senior vice-president of worldwide marketing at Silver Peak. “You don’t even have to register to get the product.”

Silver Peak hopes that offering a free WAN engine can help the company help to get its foot in the door of potential customers.

“We believe 50 per cent of those who would use this product would typically never be a customers of ours,” Cormier said. “But we do believe people who use the free product will want to move onto fully-[enabled], supported products.”

Instead of offering support for the free WAN acceleration engine, Silver Peak is creating an online user community that can share experiences and offer suggestions.

Silver Peak also announced enhancements to its VRX-8 data center-class, virtual WAN optimization software.

The product, first released late last year, can be run on standard x86 servers to create a WAN engine that offers up to 1Gbit/sec throughput. The new version adds support for larger networks and multiple hypervisors.

The updated VRX-8 software adds support for Citrix, Xen Server, and KVM hypervisors. It continues to support the VMware vSphere hypervisor.

The VRX-8 product was originally limited to replication-specific applications. Like entry-level VX-Xpress-based appliances, systems running VRX-8 can now support myriad applications. Previously limited to one session, the software can now support from 8 to 256,000 sessions, Cormier said.

Cormier said Silver Peak decided to expand the use cases for its WAN engines because x86-based platforms have gotten more powerful with multi-core processors, so that there’s plenty of processing power to spare for WAN optimization.

“Now it’s designed to be more of a general purpose WAN optimization appliance, as a hub and spoke network as well as a data center to data center replication product,” he said. “Now it can address anything that runs over TCP or UDP in a network.”

VRX-8 software retails for US$69,995.

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