Riverbed Branches Into Cloud Apps, Storage Optimization

Use of a specialized caching server can speed operations in the cloud, much as it speeds the enterprise WAN, said Riverbed.

Charles Babcock

November 13, 2010

3 Min Read
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Analytics Slideshow Calculating Cloud ROI

Analytics Slideshow Calculating Cloud ROI

Analytics Slideshow Calculating Cloud ROI (click image for larger view and for full slideshow)

Riverbed Technology has been a specialist at speeding up the distribution of applications and data between the enterprise data center and remote locations on the company's wide area network (WAN). On Nov. 10 it plunged into doing the same thing for the enterprise and workloads in the public cloud.

Riverbed announced Cloud Steelhead, WAN optimization software aimed at public cloud environments. Steelhead can speed the migration of data to the public cloud and improve the performance of applications hosted there. It interacts with previous products, Steelhead hardware appliances and Steelhead virtual appliances in software.

A server that is authorized to use WAN optimization can now be equipped with Steelhead Discovery Agent. The agent can track a given server's movement to a new IP address, even if it is a virtual server that's been moved from on-premises to out in the cloud. Once the move is detected, the server redirects connections to the Cloud Steelhead server, which takes over the optimized movement of data and application logic from the new location.

Cloud Steelhead, in its first version, works with Amazon Web Services' public Elastic Compute Cloud and with EC2's private cloud service, Virtual Private Cloud.

In general, WAN optimization consists of specialized servers in two remote locations exchanging blocks of requested data to see if the data might already be cached at the remote location from a prior use. If a quick, 128-byte exchange of information determines that's the case, the data is served from the remote location rather than the central server, saving time and WAN bandwidth. If it hasn't, the exchange proceeds as normal over a long-distance connection. The WAN optimization server can then intercede on future requests for the same data and serve it more quickly from the remote location.

With WAN optimization, companies can cache Microsoft Office applications on the Riverbed server in a remote location and serve them from there until updates or changes occur and the server needs to be refreshed. The approach can save 50-60% of WAN bandwidth in many implementations.

Riverbed has added portal-based management with a Riverbed Cloud Portal for simplified management of Riverbed Steelhead servers and quick upgrades to Steelhead application instances. The commissioning and assignment of a location for a Cloud Steelhead server can be accomplished with a few clicks from the management interface, said Eric Wolford, Riverbed senior VP of business development, in making the announcement.

Riverbed announced the Cloud Steelhead and a second product, Riverbed Whitewater, at events in New York, San Francisco, and London. Whitewater is a second appliance devoted to accelerating the speed of data deduplication and storage in the cloud. The cloud storage may be used for backup, archiving, or disaster recovery. The appliance simplifies and speeds the storage of data in cloud environments offered by EMC Atmos, AT&T Synaptic Storage, and Amazon Web Services' S3. It will be available in the fourth quarter, Wolford said.

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