The Riverbed Blog (testing)

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WAN optimization in a Cloud environment: Five important attributes to look for

Posted by riverbedtest on July 14, 2010

Much has been said about the potential benefits of Cloud-based computing, including significant cost reductions and greater IT efficiency.  But as we migrate our IT applications and infrastructures into the "Cloud," we also incur greater dependence on the WAN to access our data.

With the various WAN optimization products from different vendors available on the market, how is one to determine the offering that is best suited for a Cloudy environment?  Here are five important clues–attributes to look for–that will help determine whether a given WAN optimization offering is suited for Cloud environments:

1)  Software client that peers with cloud-based WAN optimization devices - One of the neat things about Cloud environments is that with a web browser, you can access your SaaS applications from just about any location.  It doesn't matter if you're at work, at home, in the airport lounge, hotel room–your data is available to you regardless of where you are.  To provide fast LAN-like access to your Cloud data, Riverbed offers the Steelhead Mobile product that goes anywhere you take your computer.  But a particularly important attribute of Steelhead Mobile is that it is completely integrated with Steelhead appliances, thus avoiding the need for the Cloud provider to deploy and support two parallel redundant infrastructures–one for mobile software clients and another separate infrastructure to support client-side WAN optimization appliances.

2)  Layer-7 optimization mechanisms designed for Cloud-hosted apps – Riverbed offers application-specific optimizations for applications that are commonly used in Cloud environments, including layer-7 optimizations for Sharepoint, Exchange, Oracle E-Business Suite (both JInitiator and JRE clients), and HTTP-based applications.  Riverbed's application-specific optimizations go far beyond just simple compression–they also address latency, protocol chattiness, and data encoding issues that cannot be addressed through generic compression techniques.

3)  Universal data store for scalability – Cloud-based WAN optimization services must support even greater scale than privately-deployed WAN optimization.  This is not only because public Cloud infrastructures support multiple enterprises, but also because a Cloud-hosted application requires that all employees of an enterprise–even those located in the corporate HQ offices–need to use the WAN to access their Cloud-hosted data.  Previously the WAN was only used by those employees that were not physically co-located with the main data center.  Riverbed is the only top-tier WAN optimization vendor to use a unified data store.  The importance of a universal data store for scalability is explained in one of my earlier blogs.

4)  Optimize secure traffic – Security is a key concern in public Cloud environments.  The abity to optimize secure protocols such as encrypted MAPI, encrypted Lotus Notes, SMB-signed CIFS, and SSL traffic are especially important for deploying WAN optimization into the Cloud.  Riverbed is the only WAN optimization vendor that is able to optimize all of these secure traffic types; all other vendors require that you disable security for some or all of these protocols.

5)  Close relationship with Cloud providers – What good would it be if you deployed WAN optimization products from vendor A, only to find out that most Cloud providers have standardized on vendor B?  Because WAN optimization products all use proprietary algorithms and technologies, there would be no interoperability, and you would be forced to switch products.

There is a good reason why Cloud providers are gravitating to Riverbed.  Riverbed is the leader in WAN optimization.  Riverbed also has very strong relationships with a large number of different Cloud service providers, who know that only Riverbed's offering is truly capable of meeting scaling requirements for their service provider environments.  Riverbed is already being used by a number of enterprises to optimize production Cloud traffic for thousands of employees, including Exchange and Sharepoint traffic in Microsoft Online BPOS-D cloud services.  And virtual Steelheads have also been demonstrated in Amazon Web Services' Cloud infrastructure.  Cloud providers know without a doubt that the Steelhead solution will perform reliably at the scale required to deliver commercial Cloud services; the same cannot necessarily be said about offerings from other vendors.


One Response to “WAN optimization in a Cloud environment: Five important attributes to look for”

  1. *What do you consider your greatest achievement?

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