The Riverbed Blog (testing)

A blog in search of a tagline

Archive for April, 2009

Riverbed customers get a voice

Posted by bobegilbert on April 30, 2009

Riverbed is becoming the go-to vendor in the WAN optimization market with a highly innovative product suite that enables organizations to leverage their existing WAN infrastructure to slash IT costs and do things that they could not do before.

Building a leading WAN optimization product to address some of the core requirements for performance, scalability, and simplicity is an extremely challenging and complex endeavor.  While Riverbed's development and product management team has obviously been up for the challenge since releasing Riverbed's first product in May 2004, they have received some much needed help from an unexpected source along the way.  Who has provided this help? 

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Riverbed and Thin-Client Traffic

Posted by riverbedtest on April 20, 2009

The latest Riverbed software release–RiOS 5.5–provided a number of significant new features, including RSP as I discussed in a previous blog.  Another important feature first available in RiOS 5.5 is known as SDR-M, or memory-based Scalable Data Referencing.  The SDR-M feature only stores redundant byte-level data patterns in the DRAM memory of the Steelhead appliance.  Prior to RiOS 5.5, Riverbed's SDR mechanisms always stored redundant data patterns on disk-based storage media.  However, when disk-based SDR was applied to real-time applications such as thin-client traffic, added latency and jitter would result from the process of storing and reading data on the spinning disk media in the Steelhead appliance.  Since the thin-client interface is particularly sensitive to latency, we would usually advise customers to not use SDR technology on thin-client traffic with RiOS 5.0 and earlier versions of Steelhead software.  But that is no longer the case with RiOS 5.5, where SDR-M can now be applied with no adverse impacts to thin-client traffic.  The following shows the significant data reduction benefits achieved by SDR-M when applied to thin-client traffic:

Citrix  Click on the above diagram to see it clearly.  It illustrates the outcome of a test where Riverbed's SDR-M technology achieved significantly better data reduction than the native default compression in the Citrix ICA (XenApp server) platform.  Similar results can be obtained for RDP-based network traffic issued by platforms such as VMWare View or Windows Terminal Server.  More significantly, the above results are achieved without added jitter and latency that would have been introduced if the redundant data had to be written to and read from disk-based storage.

Also notable is the observation that the results achieved above were obtained for a single Citrix ICA session; SDR-M is even more effective in eliminating redundant data when it can be applied to multiple ICA sessions optimized through the same Steelhead appliance.  When this occurs, SDR-M will leverage the redundant byte patterns observed in each Citrix user's screen view for other Citrix users that are observing the same or similar screen views.

Beyond just applying SDR-M to thin-client traffic, Riverbed Steelhead appliances also have a number of other features that can improve the performance of thin-client applications.  These include QoS enforcement capabilities that allow prioritization of thin-client traffic over other bandwidth-intensive applications such as CIFS and FTP.  Riverbed also offers an enhanced transport called MX-TCP, which addresses TCP slow-start and window expansion issues that occur in high packet-loss environments, including in WAN links experiencing network congestion.

The following Riverbed white paper is available for those who are interested in further detail on Riverbed's capabilties to optimize thin-client traffic:

Download WhitePaper-Riverbed-optimizingthinclients_nc

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From Guitar Hero to IT Hero: Activision wins with Riverbed

Posted by riverbedtest on April 14, 2009

At last weeks SNW conference, Activision was the honoree in the category of "Innovation and Promise", due largely to their adoption of Riverbed's WAN optimization technology.

A few interesting comments from Activision's senior director of IT, Thomas Fenady:

In Fenady's favorite example of how an international video
entertainment firm can pummel its network, the Dublin, Ireland-based
testers and designers working on Call of Duty routinely generate approximately 200GB of data each day.


With Riverbed Technology Inc.'s Steelhead appliance, says Fenady, "we
started getting about 34megs per second. We were filling up the pipe."

"What they see is a game-build transfer that could take eight hours before and now takes 30 minutes."

See the full list of SNW award winners.

Also check out the full article from Storage Magazine  (may require registration.)

Game on, my friends, game on!

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WAN optimization for free?

Posted by riverbedtest on April 13, 2009

Shutterfly Autobackup-free trial Free_web_site

I recently purchased a new PC for my personal use.  One of the most annoying aspects of getting a new computer is the huge number of "free" applications installed by the manufacturer.  Other than a select few such as Acrobat Reader and Skype, most of the free applications–America Online, Napster, QuickBooks Financial Center, Shutterfly, and numerous others–are of dubious value.  When I paid my money to the computer store, I was buying the computer's features–3GB SDRAM, 400GB HD, etc., and the free programs had absolutely nothing to do with my purchase.  But since they were free, it's hard to complain, other than about the inconvenience of having to remove these useless applications from my new computer.

But offering free products–including free software–is obviously not a viable long-term business strategy.  So why do some vendors offer products for free?  In some cases the vendor wants to seed the market with free products in the hope of spurring customer demand.  Vendors that resort to this strategy usually have a hard time finding customers who are willing to pay money for their products, at least initially.  In other cases the vendor hopes to squeeze out competitors and claim market share.  Internet Explorer comes to mind in Microsoft's successful campaign to vanquish Netscape with a functionally comparable product.  But this strategy is only effective if the free product provides similar capabilities to the targeted competitive product.  Since Internet Explorer is included for free in every Windows product, Microsoft can claim significant market share for web browsers.

In the WAN optimization market there are a number of vendors who offer WAN optimization capabilities for "free."  Of the larger, more prominent vendors, Cisco is known to bundle WAAS modules into their ISR routers at no additional cost to the customer, particularly for customers who place large orders for those ISR routers.  Because the inferior WAAS product is at a competitive disadvantage to the Riverbed Steelhead solution, Cisco has had no choice but to discount it heavily, and at times even offer it for free, in order to entice customers to accept it.

Another vendor that offers WAN optimization for "free" is Blue Coat.  The ProxyClient software is distributed at no charge to customers who buy the ProxySG appliance, and the MACH5 WAN optimization features are included at no cost to Blue Coat customers who purchase ProxySG for web security and web filtering.

While offering free products can affect market share statistics, they don't necessarily do anything to improve the viability or value of the free products themselves.  Similarly, just because Blue Coat's ProxySG customers get WAN optimization features for free doesn't mean they will necessarily use the ProxySG for WAN optimization.  Blue Coat's customer forums (http://forums.bluecoat.com) have plenty of healthy and lively discussion by ProxySG users on its security and web proxy features, but there is almost no discussion at all about the ProxySG's WAN optimization features.  It seems that most ProxySG users have found Blue Coat's WAN optimization features to be as useful as the free 90-day subscription to AOL that I got with the purchase of my new computer; in both cases, the "free" features go unused.

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