The Riverbed Blog (testing)

A blog in search of a tagline

Archive for January, 2009

“Just like…but cheaper”

Posted by riverbedtest on January 29, 2009

IMG_6563

Last year my family had an opportunity to vacation in Cancun.  It was going to be our first time there. Since I wanted this to be the perfect vacation, I did some research on tripadvisor.com to select an appropriate resort where my family would stay for the week.  Tripadvisor.com is a website were travelers who have previously visited the resort can submit their first-person reviews of their experience.  Since many resorts had positive reviews, I thought this was going to be an easy process. So I selected one of the top-rated resorts and called them to make a reservation.

Upon talking to the resort's reservation agent, I was told that there was no vacancy at the selected resort but that they had a nice 2 bdrm villa at a sister resort that was "just like" the original resort I had wanted.  Best of all, the price was less than 50% of the rate at the original resort, and they were going to throw in a free rental car for the week.  Wow!!!!  What a deal!  Since this was a sister resort that was "just like" the top-rated resort, I accepted the offer.

Now, I'm an experienced traveler, and in my younger backpacking days I was accustomed cheap dormitories and hostels and budget international travel.  But my wife does not travel a lot and to her, ants coming out of cracks in the walls, and strange methane smells coming out of the toilet are just not acceptable.  Needless to say, it was a bit late to address these issues when we arrived, because it was peak tourist season, and all the other resorts were booked.

Had I checked tripadvisor.com for first-person reviews on the specific resort where we were booked, I would have found out that this was an older resort built in the 1960's.  With this information, I would probably have chosen a different resort, and the outcome of the vacation would have been more favorable.  Rather, what I was reminded of is that vendor promises of being "just like" the top-rated product should be viewed warily, especially if there is an unusual discount associated with the offer.

We all know Riverbed is the leading WAN optimization solution.  As with the top-rated resorts in Cancun, is not difficult to find glowing positive references and reviews of the Steelhead solution.  However, there are many other vendors claiming that their WAN optimization products are "just like" Riverbed.  Often, a tempting discount is associated with the offer.  In the case of Cisco, the WAAS product is sometimes offered for free to large enterprises who are loyal Cisco customers.

But in the case of both Cancun and WAN optimization, the cheapest offer should be viewed with extreme caution.  That would particularly be the case for Cisco, a vendor that is known for offering premium products at a premium price.  Cisco's claims that their WAAS product is "just like" Riverbed, but at a lower price, should be seen as a contradictory statement.  If Cisco's WAAS product was truly "just like" Riverbed, then would it be cheaper?–no, it would be more expensive, just as their other core products such as switches, routers, and firewalls are more expensive than the competition.

After the Cancun experience I always scruitinize the reviews at tripadvisor.com for any hotel or resort that I bring my family to.  Nothing can substitute for the first-person account of someone who has used the product before you have.  In the same way, I would strongly advise that anyone looking to deploy a WAN optimization solution to first talk to others who have used that solution.  The vendor should be able to provide these references to you.

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Five Stars No Service – Hotel Broadband Falling Behind Home Network Speed

Posted by riverbedtest on January 16, 2009

A mint on the pillow and a "complimentary" robe may be relics of a bygone era hotel stays but that does not mean that today's business travelers are any less demanding of their homes away from home than their predecessors when they are on the road.  While hotels tout beds with names like "Heavenly" and  "Serenity", they provide little comfort to a mobile worker sentenced to connectivity hell.  A good nights sleep maybe crucial for a successful day, but getting work done while away is an even bigger priority for most itinerant road warriors. 

The New York Times recently featured a story on how hotels are struggling to cope with the increasing strain that business travelers are putting on their networks.  The article pointed out that until recently the vast majority of hotels were supporting guests with 1.5mbps T1 lines that offered inferior performance to most homes cable modems (usually 3-5mbps).  Even as hotels rush to upgrade their links, this highlights one of the many challenges confronting mobile workers striving to operate away from the office, locations where variable speed links that are easily overwhelmed by multiple users. 

Steelhead Mobile offers a solution to the challenges of location and link by maximizing bandwidth.   By eliminating redundant data from crossing the network and streamlining transportation and application layer requests Steelhead Mobile allows mobile workers to control the uncontrollable.  The result, less time in progress bar purgatory and more "Sweet" dreams.  

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Making history….

Posted by riverbedtest on January 13, 2009


2005

The New England Patriots win their 3rd Superbowl.

Riverbed wins their 1st InfoWorld Technology of
the Year award for best WAN accelerator.

 

2006

Italy wins their 4th World Cup.

Riverbed wins their 2nd InfoWorld Technology of
the Year award for best WAN accelerator.

 

2007

Boston Red Sox win their 7th World Series.

Riverbed wins their 3rd InfoWorld Technology of
the Year award for best WAN accelerator.

 

2008

Tiger Woods wins his 14th major championship.

Riverbed wins their 4th InfoWorld Technology of
the Year award for best WAN accelerator.

 

2009

Barack Obama becomes the 44th president of the United States.

Riverbed wins their 5th InfoWorld Technology of
the Year award for best WAN accelerator.

 

Unbelievable success.


Read more about it on InfoWorld's website.

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Riverbed’s Universal Data Store

Posted by riverbedtest on January 5, 2009

Riverbed has been able to scale its disk-based WAN optimization solution for thousands of customers, including in some enterprise networks that rank among the largest and most complex IP networks in the world.  One of the key reasons why the Steelhead appliance solution has been successful in very large deployments is Riverbed's Unversal Data Store architecture.  Riverbed is the only major WAN optimization vendor to implement a disk-based storage model that allows each Steelhead appliance to store each unique string of data only once, regardless of the number of peer devices that it is communicating with.  In contrast, Riverbed's main competitors including Cisco WAAS, Blue Coat ProxySG/MACH5, and Juniper WXC all use a per-peer data store.  In other words, with each of these competitive products there is a separate data store used to optimize data transfers to each peer device.

Graphically, this can be shown in the following diagram.  Riverbed's universal data architecture store allows the central Steelhead unit to store byte-level data patterns in a single shared data store–the "Universal Data Store"–that is used to optimize WAN transfers to all peer Steelhead devices.  A file that is fetched by users at 10 different sites is only stored once in the central Steelhead's shared "Universal Data Store."

Riverbed-data-store  

On the other hand Riverbed's competitors use what we describe to be a "per-peer" data store architecture.  Under this approach, the central WDS device communicates to each peer WDS device using a separate independent data store.  If the central WDS device is communicating to peer devices at 10 different remote branch offices, then the central WDS device then there will be 10 separate data stores in the central WDS unit.  This is graphically shown in the diagram below.

Competitor-data-store

The implications of the these differences are significant in a large network.  When using a WDS solution such as Cisco WAAS or Blue Coat ProxySG/MACH5, the central WAN optimization device will have difficulty scaling.  If users at 10 different sites access the same file from the data center, then the central WAAS device will need to store that file 10 separate times.  If users at 100 different remote sites receive an email, perhaps an email with a 10MB attachment, then that email and its attachment will be stored 100 separate times in the central WAAS unit.  In this case, the central WAAS device will consume storage 100 times faster than the equivalent Riverbed solution.  As additional branch offices are added, the amount of central storage allocated to optimize WAN transfers for each branch office will have to shrink even further, further reducing the overall effectiveness of the WAN optimization solution.

In a different blog I wrote late last year, I talked about the tragic consequences of limiting the evaluation process for WDS solutions to an isolated lab environment or limite-scale production pilot.  The per-peer data store is only one issue among several that don't manifest themselves in small-scale POC's and isolated lab testing.  The issue only becomes significant–and painfully so–in a large-scale production rollout. 

For these reasons, I continue to advise anyone evaluating WAN optimization solutions to talk to references of other customers who have deployed the various vendor solutions at scale.  You should have access to reference contacts in a confidential 1:1 consultation.  A vendor with a WAN optimization solution that can truly scale should have no problem supplying these references; be wary of any vendor who cannot supply references, or who refuses to allow you to talk confidentially to them.

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2008 – Another strong year for WAN Optimization

Posted by bobegilbert on January 2, 2009

With all the bad economic news this year, there is one technology area that has defied the odds and seems to have weathered much of the storm.  I qualify my statement not by the stock price performance of WAN optimization vendors like Riverbed, Bluecoat, and Cisco, but rather by the increase in the awareness and adoption of this technology to address severe challenges in IT with regards to cutting costs in branch office, data center, and mobile worker environments. 

While still relatively new and emerging, the WAN optimization market appeared to hit its stride in 2008.  A number of articles like Voxilla's 5 Great Communications Innovations of 2008 and the Tech Replublic's 10 most important business technology products of 2008 back my position.  This market presents great opportunities to make a real impact on how IT can do more with less.  From cutting your bandwidth costs to helping organizations reduce their server footprint, WAN optimization has a direct and immediate impact on an organization's ability to dramatically cut costs in IT.

I would like to hear your opinion.  How do you think the WAN optimization market has fared during this gloomy 2008 economic environment?

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