Musing: The Dim Future of Cisco ACE & WAAS

Tony Bourke draws attention to the Barrons report that Cisco is scaling the back the ACE :

Though even if it were true, it wouldn’t necessarily mean Cisco has given up on ACE. It could signal that Cisco is no longer interested in selling the ACE30 service module, preferring instead the ACE 4710 appliance and/or gearing up for a service module for the Nexus 7000 series. They could be making a move to go all virtual, with the vACE to possibly be announced shortly. (I heard November 2012, but just a rumor.) tweet

Rumor: Cisco To Stop Selling ACE? « The Data Center Overlords.

Cisco downsized the sales force on the ACE/WAAS product a while back as part of a reduction in head count – we talked about it at the time but I can’t locate the reference. This is probably linked to poor revenue of the division since both of these product families are widely disliked by customers (and I wholeheartedly agree).

However, I’m hearing speculative rumours that Cisco has new high end switching products coming soon and this is probably the source of this rumour. That is, the “word” is  that the Cisco 6500 is soon to be closed off and maybe end of life (I bloody well hope so)

I don’t believe that Cisco plans to have service modules for Nexus 7000 or they would be available today. The Nexus 7000 is already four years old and should be close to feature complete therefore if a capability isn’t here now, it’s probably not coming. Sure, I expect a lot more Ethernet in the 40Gbe and 100Gbe range, but I’ve heard suggestions that the Cisco Gen2 Fabrics are end of the line. This seems unlikely to me and I’ll admit that’s unsubstantiated scuttlebutt but the reasoning seems pretty sound about some specific hardware problems with the Nexus chassis.

Virtualization/Private Cloud

The other key impact on the ACE/WAAS product families is that Cisco may decide the future of these (mostly failed) products is to be software appliances in private clouds. This would reduce the cost of bringing the products to market by no longer needing to build custom hardware devices or shift to commoditisation.

Commoditise Everything

And for those customers that still want to use the hardware appliances, Cisco could easily move to using UCS servers as appliances. Modern Intel CPU and motherboards can run an ACE/WAAS software plenty fast enough and lower the price of inventory and production. Note that WAAS already runs on UCS E-series modules in Cisco 3900 routes today, so I expect this trend to continue.

The EtherealMind View

I’ve used the Cisco ACE and it’s moderately competent load balancer. It’s missing many features or functions and generally hard to configure and maintain. Cisco WAAS has a well earned reputation for poor quality and reliability and while they claim that 4.0 is pretty good, I don’t believe in WAN Acceleration.

Cisco’s has long standing record for writing poor quality software applications ( e.g. CiscoWorks, Security Manager et al) and failing in products outside Routing and Switching ( e.g CS-MARS, Flip, Set top boxes, Videoconferencing and a very long list besides ) means that it’s quite difficult to believe that the Cisco executives are serious about ACE and WAAS.

Disclosure

I have nothing to disclose in this article. My full disclosure statement is here

About Greg Ferro

Greg Ferro is a Network Engineer/Architect, mostly focussed on Data Centre, Security Infrastructure, and recently Virtualization. He has over 20 years in IT, in wide range of employers working as a freelance consultant including Finance, Service Providers and Online Companies. He is CCIE#6920 and has a few ideas about the world, but not enough to really count.

He is a host on the Packet Pushers Podcast, blogger at EtherealMind.com and on Twitter @etherealmind and Google Plus

You can contact Greg via the site contact page.

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