McData has announced that is reselling a type of WAN acceleration technology from Riverbed Technologies to be used with its director-class switches, allowing remote office access of applications and files from a central site at LAN-like speeds.

McData is re-branding Riverbed's Steelhead appliance, calling it the McData SpectraNet WDS. The device uses file caching and TCP optimization to speed data transfer over shared networks and is part of an effort by McData to offer remote office consolidation services, including SAN extension technology and professional consulting.

"This is way more than a technology announcement; It's a solution for branch office consolidation. And it is coming from McData, a partner that enterprise class data center managers know and trust," said Brian Garrett, an analyst with Enterprise Strategy Group in Milford, Mass.

Garrett noted that McData's service and support offering, combined with the Steelhead appliance, is particularly important for technology deployments in large companies with remote offices.

He also said that McData's installed base of enterprise accounts will be a boon for Riverbed, a private San Francisco-based company founded in 2002.

Riverbed's appliance improves the performance of applications, in part, by removing "chattiness" from networks by reducing the number of unnecessary electronic handshakes that take place when data is transferred between servers on a shared network.

A McData spokesman said his company looked at wide area file services (WAFS) technology from companies such as Tacit Networks and WAN optimisation technology from companies such as Peribit Systems, but found those technologies lacking.

"WAN optimization only solves the TCP problem. Tacit solves the file problem but not the Exchange or backup problem," the spokesman said. "Riverbed was the only company that attacked the problem from three angles: caching, network bandwidth and application access."