Wide-area file services (WAFS) is a storage technology that makes it possible to access a remote data center across a wide area network (WAN) as though it were local. WAN optimization and file access acceleration are essential elements of WAFS. Caching is used to reduce WAN congestion and disruption.
WAFS enables businesses, academic institutions, and government agencies with numerous branch offices to centrally manage data backups in real time. Other benefits include immediate, round-the-clock read-write access to backed-up data for all end users in the network, low latency and rapid data transfer speed comparable to local area network (LAN) technologies, continuous real-time updating of backup content, enhanced data security and simple, rapid system recovery in the event the network is compromised or damaged. Backing up data on servers at different physical locations increases security.
The term WAFS is used generically. Vendors have different names for their technologies. Here's how Stephen J. Bigelow has broken it down:
Riverbed Technology Inc. uses the term wide-area data services (WDS or WADS) to include WAFS along with a richer set of WAN optimization and file access features. Cisco Systems Inc. uses wide-area application services (WAAS), which is also more comprehensive and feature rich than WAFS. Brocade Communications Systems Inc. uses the term file area network (FAN) to refer to a collection of remote file management and access technologies. The term wide-area data management (WADM) has also recently appeared.