Silver Peak unveils multi-gigabit WAN optimization appliance

The NX-10K may be aimed at enterprises, but it's a 2U box

Silver Peak Systems today released its highest-end WAN optimization appliance targeted at speeding data replication for disaster recovery, opening up bandwidth for cloud/virtual environments and branch offices.

Silver Peak said its new NX-10K WAN optimization appliance can produce up to 2.5Gbit/sec of WAN bandwidth, and allows up to 256,000 simultaneous sessions in a box that is about one-third the size of competing products.

"This is targeted at the next-generation data centers supporting cloud and virtualization architectures," said Damon Ennis, vice president of product management for Silver Peak. "People are moving from gigabit Ethernet to10GBE. And, the cost of downtime associated with losing access to data is going up. More enterprises need better [recovery point objectives and recovery time objectives]."

The NX-10K comes in a 2U (3.5-in. high) form factor and has up to four 10Gbit Ethernet (GBE) ports. By comparison, Silver Peak's previous high-end product, the NX-9000, had two gigabit Ethernet ports and two 10GBE ports. That appliance offered up to 1Gbit/sec in bi-directional bandwidth.

The additional 10GBE ports speak to the fact that many data-center installations require high-availability deployments with redundant paths to and from the NX-10K, Ennis said. "Doubling the ports to four allows us to fully support our LAN-side demands and provide for highly-available, diversely routed configurations," he said.

The WAN appliance has a starting list price of $300,000. At that price, the appliance is clearly targeted at large enterprises and cloud service providers, such as Google and Yahoo, as well as large online transaction sites, such as PayPal and eBay -- all of which are Silver Peak customers.

Joe Skorupa, research vice president for data center convergence at Gartner, in a statement said, "For large enterprises and managed service providers planning to support technologies such as cloud computing and virtualization, achieving the highest degree of performance while simplifying data center architecture around space, cooling, and power will be crucial."

Jeff Aaron, vice president of marketing for Silver Peak, said his company's newest appliance is different from the competitor's products, such as Riverbed's Steelhead appliance, in that the software focuses more on optimizing data packets and less on deduplication and compression technologies.

Silver Peak's software uses protocol acceleration techniques, reducing network "chattines," including the adjustment of TCP window sizes, selective TCP acknowledgements, and CIFS read-ahead and write-behinds.

Aaron said the software also corrects packet delivery issues common with cloud and multiprotocol label switching (MPLS) technologies, using adaptive forward error correction and packet order correction technology to rebuild lost and out-of-order packets in real-time. The appliance also uses quality of service techniques tp prioritize traffic, and granular traffic shaping policies to guarantee network resources.

Another feature, called Network Memory, inspects all traffic at the byte level and stores copies of content in high-capacity, lower-cost disk drives and/or solid-state drives. Advanced finger-printing techniques recognize repetitive patterns for local delivery, eliminating the transfer of duplicate data across the WAN.

"WAN optimization had a tendency to focus on file share and email access in the past. Those presented the biggest problems as enterprises looked to consolidate their resources," Aaron said. "Now we're application agnostic and work at the network layer. It fixes the network problems versus trying to reverse engineer applications. It's able to optimize any application that runs over IP."

Lucas Mearian covers storage, disaster recovery and business continuity, financial services infrastructure and health care IT for Computerworld. Follow Lucas on Twitter at  @lucasmearian or subscribe to Lucas's RSS feed . His e-mail address is

Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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