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Cisco, Microsoft Unveil Windows Server Appliance

In marketing the appliance, "Windows Server on WAAS" targets companies looking to avoid a full-blown deployment of the software, which is more than is needed in most branch offices.

Cisco and Microsoft have launched a co-developed appliance that targets companies looking to deploy a limited number of Windows Server 2008 functions in a branch office.

The new product, introduced Wednesday, integrates Windows Server functionality with Cisco's wide area application services, which communicate over the network to a Cisco WAAS appliance in a data center. Windows services include Microsoft Active Directory, Domain Name System Server, Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol Server, and print services.

The networking functionality is managed through Cisco's WAAS Central Manager, while Windows Server can be remotely managed by IT staff in a data center through the Microsoft System Center.

In marketing the appliance, Cisco and Microsoft are targeting companies looking to avoid a full-blown deployment of Windows Server 2008, which is more than is needed in most branch offices. The companies claim the latest product brings just the right amount of functionality, while reducing maintenance costs through remote management.

In addition, having the appliance in-house brings a faster computing response time to employees than products that distribute centralized resources from a data center, according to the partners.

Cisco and Microsoft have launched a joint Web site for the new product, which is called Windows Server on WAAS. The site includes testimonials from customers Farm Credit Services, Monsanto, and Sony Ericsson. Pricing wasn't disclosed.

Despite the recent collaboration, Cisco and Microsoft are competitors in other tech markets, such as unified communications. Cisco in September took aim at Microsoft and IBM in unveiling platforms for UC and advanced video conferencing.

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