Riverbed accelerates apps for mobile users

By Kevin Komiega

—Wide area data services (WDS) specialist Riverbed Technology rolled out a new line of products today aimed at extending the WAN optimization and acceleration features of its Steelhead Appliance to bring LAN-like application performance and file access to the mobile workforce.

The two new additions to the Riverbed product family—the Steelhead Mobile software and Steelhead Mobile Controller (SMC)—work in conjunction with the company's line of WAN acceleration appliances to accelerate file transfers and application performance over distances. A Steelhead Mobile deployment requires that software be deployed on the user's laptop or desktop PC and that an SMC and Steelhead appliance be deployed in the data center.

Apurva Dave, Riverbed's director of product marketing, says mobile workers often suffer sub-optimal application performance when they're connecting to corporate networks from remote locations. By porting the Riverbed Optimization System (RiOS) architecture to Windows for Steelhead Mobile, he says, IT managers can extend the performance benefits of Steelhead appliances to the mobile workforce.

The RiOS software uses a combination of data reduction, TCP optimization, and application-level protocol optimization to boost performance over a WAN. Dave claims RiOS can reduce traffic on the WAN by as much as 95% and transport layer roundtrips by up to 98%.

The Steelhead Mobile software is deployed transparently by IT administrators onto user laptops or remote PCs. The software can operate in "invisible" mode in the background or "visible" mode, which enables power users to perform minor tuning and optimization functions.

The SMC serves as an out-of-band management and reporting system for the Steelhead Mobile software. With an SMC, IT administrators can create deployment and upgrade packages and centrally manage policies for all remote users through the SMC's user interface.

Each SMC can manage concurrent licensing for up to 2,000 Steelhead Mobile clients and can be clustered for larger deployments. The SMC comes with a license for up to 30 concurrent clients, and license packages can be added as needed.

The Steelhead Mobile software and the SMC are scheduled for general availability in September through a concurrent licensing model versus a per-user approach. Riverbed estimates that organizations will require one license for every three-to-five mobile workers, with a cost per user of approximately $87. Pricing varies based on the volume of licenses purchased or the number of concurrent users.

Customers looking to add Steelhead Mobile to their environments must also buy a Steelhead Mobile Controller at a cost of $12,995, which includes 30 Steelhead Mobile concurrent user licenses. Customers can purchase additional licenses at the same time or add them later in increments of 10 for $3,500.

This article was originally published on July 27, 2007