Cisco fleshes out data center vision

WAAS, ACE and VFrame upgrades on tap

Cisco this week added clarity to its Data Center 3.0 vision by enhancing products to participate in the virtualized environment.

The announcements were made at the Cisco Live! customer conference. Last year at this event, Cisco unveiled Data Center 3.0, a strategy to virtualize data centers for greater operational and energy efficiency by orchestrating application delivery networks, servers, computing and storage.

The products enhancements unveiled at this year's show include:

  • Wide Area Application Services (WAAS) software release 4.1, which features virtualized application hosting services, improved application acceleration and video delivery for the branch office.

  • Application Control Engine (ACE) software release 3.1 for the ACE 4710 application switch, which offers up to 4Gbps of throughput and up to 2 Gbps of compression capability, and multimedia support.

  • VFrame Data Center software release 1.2, for end-to-end infrastructure provisioning with ACE and VMware ESX.

  • Data Center 3.0 professional services to support customers with data center deployments.

WAAS is designed to optimize application availability, performance and security over the wide-area network, while ACE does so within the data center.

WAAS software release 4.1 supports network-embedded virtualization, enabling customers to deploy services such as Microsoft Windows Server 2008 locally at the branch office on a Cisco WAAS appliance, reducing server hardware requirements, Cisco says. In addition, version 4.1 is designed to simplify customer deployments and provide application-specific acceleration features for Microsoft Exchange (MAPI), Web applications (HTTP), live and on-demand video, centralized printing, and Unix/Linux file sharing.

"Anytime you accelerate MAPI and HTTP, that's a great benefit to all of us because you know how important e-mail and the Internet is to all businesses," says Jim Ward, headquartered CIO of Pacer International, a Concord, Calif., freight transportation provider and Cisco customer. "We use those extensively. E-mail takes up a tremendous amount of bandwidth nowadays."

ACE software release 3.1 doubles the device's performance. Cisco says it also enhanced ACE to support virtualized load balancing and security services across unified communications, collaborative technologies, and video applications through improved support for Session Initiation Protocol and Real-Time Streaming Protocol.

The enhanced support for video strikes a chord with Ward, but Cisco's ACE still has a hole.

"I would like for them to do more specific acceleration on specific products, like SAP," the Pacer CIO says. "I'm in the middle of a large SAP implementation. They have a few gaps in that area but I'm sure they'll get to that sooner or later."

VFrame, meanwhile, is a network-driven service orchestration provisioning platform. VFrame 1.2 offers integration with Cisco ACE and VMware ESX, including the ability to virtualize servers to ACE virtual devices, or to select a server out of a utility pool and configure it end-to-end with ESX.

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