Microsoft Corp. has signed its most extensive joint-development and marketing pact to date with a developer of network appliance hardware. Packeteer Inc., which is integrating the products it acquired through its purchase of Tacit Networks one year ago, will work with Microsoft to define a "branch office box" based on the new iShaper. The iShaper incorporates elements of Packeteer's PacketShaper and Tacit's iShared.
Bala Kasiviswanathan, director of Windows server branch and storage solutions at Microsoft, said that his company has worked with several software and hardware companies involved in wide-area file services standards, and has worked with Packeteer in the past on server consolidation products. But the new pact is Microsoft's most significant in the WAN optimization space, he said.
"We will be working together on next-generation products, and will develop joint-marketing programs for customers," he said. "In that sense, this deal is unique."
The ultimate goal is to provide routing, access and even caching and network-probe features in a single 10-Mbit/second appliance designed for branch offices, said Packeteer vice president of marketing Alan Menezes. The iShaper will probe all seven layers of WAN packets for application optimization and performance monitoring. Quality-of-service prioritization will allow policy-based provisioning of services inbound from the public network. Microsoft worked with Packeteer to provide Server R2 branch services such as domain control, printing, storage and security.
The Microsoft collaboration involves not only the standard Server R2 package, but also Microsoft's Internet Security and Acceleration Server, and System Management Server.
The iShaper uses architectures similar to those found in larger access platforms, in separating data and control planes. The data plane analyzes packets in real-time for low latency, while the advanced service plane provides higher-layer services as out-of-band software modules.
The iShaper appliance, which will ship in the current quarter, is not intended to obsolete either the iShared, which will be optimized for mobile clients, or the PacketShaper, designed for larger offices and full enterprises. At the very low end of mobile clients, Packeteer will also retain its Mobiliti all-software client solution.