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EMC shifts Cisco WAAS to services group

Despite rumors that pop up from time to time, Cisco has not taken its Wide Area Application Services (WAAS) product off the market. Cisco is still developing and selling WAAS, and its storage partner EMC sells it too, although there has been a change there. Instead of selling WAAS directly, EMC now sells it through its professional services group.

So, essentially, WAAS becomes another tool in the toolbelt for EMC’s Professional Services. The services folks decide when it fits in an environment and they do the deployment, rather than the customer themselves. According to an EMC spokesman in an email to

In April, EMC modified its go-to-market approach around Cisco WAAS based on customer feedback and to provide differentiated value. EMC was originally selling it without professional services. We received feedback from customers asking us to pair it with professional services so that they could take full advantage of the technology — which they realized had a lot of potential for transforming application delivery, infrastructure through consolidation, etc. Before customers made the investment, they often asked for an assesment to see if it was right for them. Once they purchased it, customers were asking for help implementing it. As a result, we developed a specialized practice within EMC Global Services called EMC Data Center Networking Practice — which is where Cisco WAAS is now offered — and it includes comprehensive professional services.

That same spokesman stressed that it was just a shift in the delivery of the product, rather than a reflection on the product itself. But why are customers ask for help deploying and understanding the use cases for it? There are plenty of products, especially in EMC’s portfolio, that require professional services engagements to get the best results, and companies shift the delivery of products all the time in an effort to boost sales. Still, a shift in delivery method mid-stream, which is directly attributed to customers’ difficulties with understanding and deploying a product, doesn’t sound like good news for WAAS.

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You might consider the perspective that many companies are trimming back their IT resources, especially where permanent headcount isn't required. Most can no longer afford to employ "experts" in every aspect of IT technology. Deploying WAAS could well fall in that category - a lot of time & effort required to design and deploy, while far less is required to operate and maintain the environment once set up. Automated multi-dite disaster restart is by definition reasonably simple to operate, but it is a complex environment to design, implement and verify. In such scenarios, it is far more prudent and frugal to outsource the initial implementation, and doing so does not necessarily reflect on the effectiveness or value of a solution. The majority of the men and women who fly airplanes probably couldn't build one, but they know everything they need to fly them. That doesn't mean United Airlines should be building airplanes, or that Boeing's products are "too complex." Sometimes - no, make that OFTEN - the most cost-effective approach to getting something done right is to have the experts handle the complexities by outsourcing the implementation.
I thought EMC was also now reselling F5's wide area file services product, WANjet? Are those things competitive with one another? Is Cisco's product being edged out by another networking companies newer offering? From the outside, it's not clear where the lines are between the one and the other.
What does this mean for the infrastructure may be needed to get a customer up and running? Are there any players in that market that EMC/Cisco uses to connect the dots?