Expand Networks Inc is to announce the first fruits of its strategy to drive OEM business now that its optimization/acceleration technology is modular and running on Linux, in the shape of a deal with networking vendor Huawei-3Com.
Under terms of the deal, H3C, which started life as a joint venture but is now controlled by 3Com, will integrate the Compass platform from Roseland, New Jersey-based Expand into its Intelligent Management Center, iMC.
With the rapid adoption of WAN optimization, we saw a compelling reason to evolve our products into more of a multi-discipline device in order to address the requirements of the market, said Cao Xiang Ying, CTO of H3C. We evaluated many vendors and Expand Networks’ Compass platform, by far, offers the most robust solution and is built to handle the many phases of WAN optimization and application acceleration. This approach empowers IT departments to navigate and manage network complexities that impact application, user, and business productivity.
They’ll embed Compass into their next-generation routers and other products they’re going to announce, said Chris Williams, CMO at Expand. This enables us to compete with our OEM partner in the emerging market for what Gartner is calling the integrated WAN optimization controllers, which it tips to grow from $4.5m last year to $220m in 2008.
Where optimization/acceleration has until now been delivered primarily on dedicated appliances, and in some cases, the functionality has been tied to the particular hardware platform, Expand spent 2004 and early 2005 both migrating its products to a Linux kernel and making them modular so as to make its software portable.
The rationale was to extend the technology’s reach through OEM deals with vendors of network components like switches and routers, as well as security appliances and even networked storage devices, since it also integrated technology from and subsequently acquired dedicated wide-area file services vendor DiskSites, which is appropriate for storage protocols such as CIFS and MAPI.
This resonates with what other players in the space are doing, most notably Cisco, which has begun to offer its Wide-Area Application Services technology, comprising both optimization/acceleration and WAFS, as a module for its flagship branch office device, the Integrated Services Router.
However, competitors question the module’s power consumption, not to mention the performance hit to the router when it is turned on. It is typical of Cisco to put pressure on the CPUs in the router to force customers to upgrade, said David White, Expand’s VP of business development and architect of the H3C deal on the Expand side.
As for other competitors in the space, Williams alluded to the fact that Packeteer, with which it pioneered the optimization/acceleration market in the late 90s, has also been buying companies with complementary technologies such as Mentat (optimization over satellite links), and last year, Tacit (WAFS). However, it still faces the challenge of integrating these multiple platforms (Tacit, for instance, runs on Windows where Packeteer uses VxWorks), a process Expand has already been through.