The Riverbed Blog (testing)

A blog in search of a tagline

Archive for December, 2008

Does WAN optimization help voice/video delivery?

Posted by bobegilbert on December 31, 2008

A common question from companies investigating WAN optimization solutions is what can this technology do to improve our voice over IP or streaming video applications?

John Bartlett from NetForecast recently posted a nice write-up at nojitter where he tackled this topic.  The summary of John's observations is that WAN optimization does help, but indirectly.  When the performance of voice or video environments are impacted by bandwidth constraints caused by the sharing of bandwidth with other traffic, WAN optimization can improve the situation by reducing the WAN footprint of the "other traffic".  The result is that there is much more room for VoIP and video.

There are two additional areas where WAN optimization solutions can potentially improve VoIP and video environments.  QoS enforcement is one such area where you give the voice or video traffic priority so that when it competes with other traffic on the network, it gets access to the bandwidth first.  QoS is often performed on the router, but in some cases QoS can optionally be performed from a WAN optimization device such as Riverbed's Steelhead appliance.  In addition to QoS, some WAN optimization vendors provide video delivery services to help with the problem of video taking far too much bandwidth to deliver to endpoints.  For example, Riverbed has partnered with vendors Qumu and Wowza to provide stream splitting capabilities, which is an elegant method of delivering a single stream from a data center over the WAN and splitting the stream to multiple clients at the branch office on the LAN.  The bandwidth savings are absolutely tremendous.

Whether the function is bandwidth reduction, QoS, or video delivery, WAN optimization can indeed be  essential for a successful roll-out of VoIP or video streaming.

I would love to hear from you regarding the impact that WAN optimization has had on your VoIP and/or video streaming applications.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

The cloud forecast for WAN optimization – more than just ADCs

Posted by bobegilbert on December 30, 2008

Ann Bednarz recently wrote a Network World piece where she discusses the need for WAN optimization in the rapidly growing cloud computing environment.  The focus of the article was on F5 and how their Big-IP application delivery product is geared towards the enterprise cloud computing market as opposed to the public cloud services like Amazon and S3.  

F5's Big-IP product is an asymmetrical solution with a single appliance residing at the datacenter.  The F5 appliance offloads SSL servers that are bombarded with requests from SSL-encrypted cloud-based applications in addition to providing caching and pre-fetching of web-based cloud applications.  Gartner notes that application delivery controllers can provide data center efficiencies of 20% to 50%.

Reading this article reminds me that there is still much to do with regards to educating the market about the different types of WAN optimization technologies that are available.  While the focus of this article is on single box application delivery controllers (ADC) that reside at the data center, it is important to understand that symmetrical solutions like Riverbed where you have an appliance on both sides of the network or a piece of software at one side and an appliance on the other side, play an important role in enterprise cloud computing apps as well.

I first want to qualify my intentions up front.  I am not bashing or disbarraging asymmetrical application delivery products from the likes of F5 and in fact, I believe ADCs are complementary to a symmetrical WAN optimization solution like what Riverbed provides.  How are they complimentary?  It is very common to have an F5 box at the data center handling the offload of the heavy resource intensive crypto processing that the server environment would otherwise have to deal with.  By offloading the servers, the servers can deliver content to more users and by not being bogged down, response times can improve.

With the server-side processing performance bottlenecks addressed, what about the WAN-side bottlenecks that exist with limited bandwidth, but more importanltly the impact that high latency has on the response time of web-based enterprise cloud applications?  Performing compression on a single-ended device has a limited impact on the WAN traffic.  This is where Riverbed comes into play.  Riverbed's Steelhead appliance and Steelhead Mobile software are positioned at both ends of the WAN link.  Both work together to safely decrypt the SSL encrypted stream and apply highly effective data-deduplication algorithms to the encrypted traffic.  The result is often between 60% to 95% of the traffic is reduced from the WAN.  In addition to reducing the data payload for web-based apps, the Riverbed dual-ended solution also applies two levels of protocol optimizations to improve client-side performance at both the TCP layer and application layer.  The result for many web-based applications is not just 50% faster performance, but in many cases 300%, 500%, or even greater. 

The point is don't focus solely on application delivery controllers when tackling web-based application performance within your enterprise cloud environment.  Symmetrical WAN optimization solutions like Riverbed can also play a critical role in improving performance.

I would love to hear from you if you have both ADCs and symmetrical WAN optimization devices in your envrionment. 

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

More ways to save money with Riverbed

Posted by riverbedtest on December 2, 2008

As Riverbed's existing 5000+ customers have found, the Steelhead solution saves money in a variety of different ways.  My previous blog outlined a few clear-cut ways to save money with Riverbed.  Here in this blog I've listed some additional less-obvious ways to save money, in addition to those discussed in the first blog.

1)  Consolidate or eliminate your regional data centers.  Back some time ago, it made sense to have regional data centers.  To support operations in remote regions around the world, you obviously needed to have a regional data center to ensure that local employees could access their data.  However, with the availability of the Riverbed solution, the situation has changed considerably.  Riverbed can allow 10,000km seem like 10m.  It's as if all of your employees around the world can now collaborate locally, instantly accessing data from any location in the world as if they were accessing files on a local file server.  With that being the case, do you really need five regional data centers, in addition to your global core data center?  With Riverbed, all you may need now is a single global data center and perhaps one or two backup data centers for disaster recovery.  The opportunity to eliminate data centers provides the potential for enormous cost savings that can run into the $millions annually.  Sounds risky?  Many Riverbed customers have already done it, with many others solidifying their near-term plans to eliminate data centers–all made possible due to Riverbed.

2)  Reduce or eliminate dependence on Citrix Presentation Servers.  Let's face it, Citrix is costly, and the annual per-user licensing fees that you're stuck with increase just about every year.  And for most environments, the original reason for deploying Citrix–slow WAN performance–can now be solved with the Riverbed solution.  But Riverbed solves the application performance problem through a one-time non-recurring investment.  No need for stiff licensing fees that continue to rise every year.  Since you've already paid for your software application licenses, why not just move those applications on to your employees' very capable workstations and laptop computers?  And best of all, there would be no more need to deal with annoying thin client issues, such as mouse and keyboard lag, and very long waits to print documents.  With Riverbed and a full-powered thick-client approach, your applications are responsive to every keyboard touch and mouse movement, your print jobs execute instantly, and remote files can be accessed at LAN-like speeds.

3)  Virtualize the workplace.  As we navigate through this difficult economic period, many enterprises are looking to save costs by downsizing various operational aspects of the business.  Do you actually need 100,000 sq feet for that regional office?  Do you really need multiple branch offices to cover a given region?  By having employees flexibly work at home, combined with possible hoteling arrangements for when they need do need to be in the office, the amount of office space your business needs can be significantly reduced.  That provides the opportunity to save on facilities costs, or perhaps to lease out office space to other businesses.  And for employees that now spend at least some of their time working from home, the Steelhead Mobile software client ensures that they maintain fast access to all of their application data–as fast as when they are in the office itself–in order to ensure they remain productive.

The bottom line is that there are mulitple ways in which Riverbed allows you to streamline business operations and reduce costs.  While most IT purchases are made with a ROI timeframe of 3 years, an investment in Riverbed easily leads to a positive return within less than one year, often within just a few months.  In this difficult economic environment, that's an opportunity that few enterprises can afford to pass up.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »