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Riverbed Boosts Cloud Application Optimization With VMware

Riverbed is extending the cloud computing services and thin client software supported by its Steelhead WAN optimization product line. The cloud version of Steelhead now includes support for providers that use VMware's ESX-based environment in addition to Amazon's Citrix-based services, while the standard version now supports thin clients (or desktop virtualization) with the Windows Aero user interface.

Cloud computing is even more dependent on WAN links than internal enterprise applications, so it's an obvious candidate for WAN optimization. Riverbed first released a cloud version of Steelhead in October 2010, based on Amazon's public Elastic Compute Cloud and EC2's private cloud service, Virtual Private Cloud (VPX).

It has since added cloud support throughout its Steelhead product line, last week adding ESX, offering customers a wider choice of service providers. The cloud Steelhead works in the same way as the standard version, except that it applies compression, data reduction and quality of service to links between Steelhead and a cloud service, rather than between two Steelhead appliances.

Just like WAN links between enterprise data centers, links to cloud services usually will see a greater performance boost from symmetric WAN optimization boxes, such as Riverbed's Steelhead, than from asymmetric systems like IBM's DataPower appliance, which also is aiming for cloud computing enterprise customers. And just like in an enterprise, the downside is that the Riverbed technology needs to be installed at both ends of the link--including, in this case, by the cloud service provider.

Riverbed currently supports ESX-based clouds from Terremark, ZettaServe and Xtium, as well as Amazon EC2 and VPC. Like cloud computing itself, the cloud side of the Riverbed technology is sold as a service. Of course, customers also need a Steelhead appliance (which can be physical or virtual) at every site where they want to use the technology.

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