As we ramp up for the largest enterprise launch in Microsoft history, Windows Server 2008, SQL Server 2008 and Visual Studio 2008, this is a great time to share some additional big news.

In August of 2007, when Microsoft and Cisco made an announcement that we were committed to working together, there was already some tangible work on interoperability between our companies, including NAC/NAP integration and several interoperability initiatives with our respective unified communications products.  Today, we are announcing that we are expanding our collaboration into the branch office market.

Microsoft and Cisco are announcing that Cisco will offer Windows Server 2008 as part of their Wide Area Application Services (WAAS) appliances. Let’s start by looking at what Cisco WAAS is and then we’ll look at how Windows Server 2008 fits in.

Cisco WAAS:

Cisco Wide Area Application Services (WAAS) is a WAN optimization solution that improves the performance of TCP-based applications operating in a WAN environment. The basic idea is to accelerate access to servers and applications that have been centralized into corporate data centers. This provides LAN-like application performance for branch office users while taking advantage of the IT infrastructure simplification that comes from centralization.

This certainly sounds like a win-win situation for customers, but we need to look a little deeper to understand why Cisco and Microsoft decided this was the next major area of collaboration for our companies.

Base IT Services:

When you centralize servers you quickly find out that there are some critical services that branch users and IT pros alike depend on. There are services like DHCP and DNS, that are required for just about everything, and then there is the “little” matter of managing printers, print queues and print driver distribution in the branch. And finally, users need to authenticate, process login scripts, and apply appropriate policies to connect to corporate resources – most often through Microsoft Active Directory®.

All of this infrastructure is provided by Windows Server for many Microsoft and Cisco customers. Customers have been talking with us about continuing to provide these services in the branch – even if they want to centralize everything else – and eliminate the need to deploy multiple physical devices into each branch office.

Windows Server 2008 on WAAS – here is where the announcement comes in and the technologies come together:

With features such as Read-Only Domain Controller, BitLocker Drive Encryption, Server Core, and network protocol improvements, Windows Server 2008 is a great platform for the branch office. And now, through a virtualization component that Cisco will be embedding in their WAAS appliances, Cisco will offer Windows Server 2008 as part of their WAN optimization solution.  This means that IT can offer all of the performance and availability benefits of having base IT services in the branch office without the need for extra hardware. In fact, deployment is all centrally managed, entirely through software!

And in order to make sure that this is a solution that our customers can depend on, both Cisco and Microsoft will be validating the resulting architecture, provide deployment guidance, and most importantly, provide integrated support. That is why we are so excited about this announcement – this is more than just a high-level commitment to cooperate, it’s about delivering real IT solutions that work well together across software and networks.

Enterprise customers tell us that it is great to see Cisco and Microsoft working together like this. We would love to hear what you think, so let us know how you see solutions like this fitting into your branch infrastructure.

Adam J Skewgar

Group Product Manager, Branch & Storage Solutions