Riverbed virtualizes remote offices

By Kevin Komiega

-- Riverbed Technology continues to enhance its WAN optimization software and hardware appliances to extend their reach from the data center to branch offices and mobile workers. The company has essentially revamped its entire product portfolio with upgrades to its operating system, mobile software, and the Riverbed Services Platform (RSP), a platform for third-party software modules built on virtualization technology from VMware.

This week, Riverbed announced enhancements to the RSP platform that allow users to virtualize third-party software into Steelhead WAN optimization and acceleration appliances, eliminating the need for separate dedicated servers, according to Apurva Dave, Riverbed's director of product marketing.

Riverbed is now OEMing VMware's virtual server technology, which allows Steelhead appliances to host a range of virtual services and consolidate file servers and application servers back to the data center, creating a "serverless" branch office.

"Anything that you can package up in a VMware Virtual Machine Disk Format [VMDK] file can run on our RSP. This makes it easier for users to get up and running at new branch offices because the only piece of hardware they would need would be one of our Steelhead appliances," says Dave.

The company also announced new versions of its Riverbed Optimization System (RiOS) operating system, Steelhead Mobile software, and a new upgrade path for its Steelhead hardware.

The new RiOS 5.5 platform features enhanced bandwidth-saving technology that allows users to use one-quarter the bandwidth while completing the same replication tasks in a smaller window of time. Dave says Riverbed achieves these bandwidth efficiencies by increasing LAN-speed throughput on large-scale transfers, reaching speeds of up to 1Gb on a single device, and even more in clustered deployments.

The new Steelhead hardware, dubbed the 50 Series appliances, allows users to perform a license upgrade to any other model in the same model series. For example, a Steelhead 250-L can be upgraded to a 250-M, or a 1050-L can be upgraded to a 1050-M. This new approach is software-only and increases WAN capacity and the total number of optimized TCP connections per appliance via a license key.

Riverbed also expanded its application support to include WAN acceleration for Lotus Notes and MAPI encrypted traffic at the application layer, as well as MAPI 2007 and Oracle Forms for mobile workers. With RiOS 5.5, Riverbed now offers protocol optimization for encrypted Exchange 2007 at the application layer and support for secure Microsoft Office environments, such as SMB signing. 

Finally, Riverbed added SSL acceleration to Steelhead Mobile for secure, LAN-like application performance for remote workers.

Version 5.5 of RiOS, Mobile 2.0 and the enhanced RSP will be available in the fourth quarter. Partner RSP packages are sold separately and purchased through the respective Riverbed partner. General availability for RSP packages will vary.

Related articles:
Riverbed ties into network management tools
Riverbed accelerates apps for mobile users
WAFS/WDS product roundup

This article was originally published on October 29, 2008