Expand Networks is to help large centralised enterprises adopt a more distributed structure, after announcing a mobile accelerator to cut the cost of deploying small branch offices, as well as roaming users.

Expand specialises in application acceleration products over the WAN, and the company used the Interop show in Las Vegas to demonstrate its mobile accelerator client (MACC) with HIVE technology.

Essentially, the MACC is a bit of client software that sits on individual machines, which Expand says removes the need for WAN optimisation appliances at the branch site. Indeed, Expand believes it can "significantly reduce" the TCO for WAN optimisation for smaller branch offices and mobile workers within large businesses.

The MACC client has the ability to undertake 'intelligent location detection', whereby the client "intelligently understands its location and automatically applies policies and adaptive QoS and configuration based on this information."

Expand said that this intelligent location detection enables the client to discover the context in which it is operating, and adopt one of three unique modes of behaviour.

The most noteworthy mode is its 'collective mode', whereby the product will auto-identify its peers in the branch office and will form a collective virtualised cache. It is this mode, that Expand feels will remove the need for WAN optimisation appliances at the branch site, and will help resolve the 'client or appliance' dilemma facing network managers.

"Multiple clients [on branch office users laptops] work collectively as a single distributed 'virtual cache' [i.e. share each other's cache]," the company told Techworld via email.

"This happens through the auto discovery of collective members. So with MACC automatically discovering its peers in the same location it will intelligently use the distributed virtual cache for WAN optimisation and acceleration for the branch office."

"As a result, IT departments are able to easily plan and budget for small remote locations, as they are no longer faced with the dilemma of whether to provide an appliance or use clients," said the company.

"The user will now gain similar experience in the small branch office with the virtual cache as he would with an appliance, but also will gain optimisation benefits when he leaves the office and becomes an individual user," it said.

"For branch offices [with less than 20 users] the multiple clients in collective mode act as an effective alternative to purchasing a dedicated WAN optimisation appliance at the branch office," it added.

Besides the collective mode, the MACC also has a second mode called 'freestyle', which is used for remote users when at home or out on the road. This mode "automatically and transparently downloads policies and configuration suitable to those locations."

The third and final mode is called 'slipstream', which is used to support a remote worker called into a head office or large branch. This mode detects if there is an existing appliance and automatically lets that appliance carry out the acceleration functions.

"Large enterprises with numerous small branches previously faced a choice of implementing either a mobile client or a physical appliance for WAN optimisation," said CEO Elie Barr in a statement. "The MACC completely resolves this ‘client or appliance' dilemma, by providing the benefit of both individual and shared cache in one solution while significantly lowering TCO."

The MACC client makes use of technology from Expand's acquisition of Australian firm NetPriva last year. But it will only be available in Q4 of this year.

There is no UK specific pricing as of yet, but it is thought that concurrent user licences will be priced from sub $100 (£64) per user, depending on number of licences purchased.