The Riverbed Blog (testing)

A blog in search of a tagline

Archive for December, 2010

Riverbed: How Do I Love Thee?

Posted by riverbedtest on December 29, 2010

200px-Sonnets1609titlepage Sounds as though we've written a sonnet to Riverbed.  Not quite.  But what we do have is a great entry posted on the virtuallyEffortless blog, a blog dedicated to server and application virtualization.  An author who goes by the moniker s002spa (probably not his given name) has written a wonderful piece about how easy Riverbed Steelhead Appliances are to implement ("it *just works*") and about the remarkable amount of data it got off of his WAN ("Ninety.  Four.  Percent.").  He even discusses the Riverbed Services Platform (RSP), and how it helped him reduce the number of servers he has installed.

A few other quotes:

"Whatever these appliances are doing behind the curtain they do it EXTREMELY well"
"It’s not hard to imagine how these appliances can be leveraged to tackle some formerly *impossible* tasks in your environment."
"I was effectively spared from having to transmit over 1TB of data across the WAN.  Simply amazing!!!"

It's always nice to see rave reviews about our stuff.  We know it's all true, but when someone else writes so glowingly about it, we especially love it!  He's saying the things that we say around here all the time.

Thanks, s002spa!  And have a happy and healthy new year, everybody!  See you in 2011!

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Flow International Corp, Riverbed and Citrix

Posted by riverbedtest on December 22, 2010

Flow_logo Flow International Corporation is the market leader in a space that I had never come across before.  Their web site says:

Flow International Corporation provides technologically advanced, environmentally sound solutions to the manufacturing and industrial cleaning markets. We’re the pacesetter in the development and manufacture of ultrahigh-pressure (UHP) waterjet technology, and a leading provider of robotics equipment.

The shorter description is that (among other things) they produce equipment that generates ultra-high pressure water cutting devices that can (among other things) precision-cut almost any material.  Their jets can propel a spray of water thinner than a human hair at Mach 3.  The jets are especially useful in applications where blades and other cutting devices don’t work (like cutting a 12” piece of granite), and where laser and plasma cutters can’t do the job (like cutting metal, where the heat can cause the metal to deform).  They are also cleaner and more environmentally 2010-12-22_1139 friendly than blades, lasers, or plasmas since they don’t produce dust or other debris as part of the cutting process.  (You can watch some very cool videos of Flow devices cutting some really interesting things here like an iPod and a laptop.  You can also see their cutters in action on the US TV show American Choppers.)

Until late in 2009, Flow International ran their ERP system on AS400s, but by then they had outgrown it, and began to look at alternatives.  They eventually settled on Microsoft Dynamics AX 2009 with Terminal Server running over RDP to connect their data center in Kent, WA with their facility in Bretten, Germany.  Primarily due to network latency, the performance was, in a word, awful.  Screen refreshes were so slow that users would type before the screens were ready, often causing incorrect changes to data entries, adding to user frustration.  The system was unusable.

At this point, Jason Dickens, Enterprise Infrastructure Manager at Flow International, began to look for ways to improve performance within the current implementation through tuning and other basic enhancements, but was unable to improve things significantly.  So he explored WAN Optimization solutions, and specifically Riverbed, since he had used Steelhead appliances in a previous position.  He learned, to his dismay, that RDP could not be accelerated by Steelhead appliances or any other WAN Optimization appliance.  So he further broadened his search, and learned about Citrix ICA and led a trial of Riverbed and Citrix together.

He and his team were blown away by the performance improvement. The system became more than merely usable; performance was quick and snappy.  They were so impressed that within two weeks of the start of the trial in December 2009 they bought the three trial Steelhead appliances, rather than disturb them, plus six additional boxes.  Less than a year later, they bought four more, to bring their total to 13 (six in Europe, three in Asia, and two each in the US and South America). 

The results have been nothing short of remarkable.  While Riverbed and 2010-12-22_1135 Citrix tell their customers they can expect 40-80% bandwidth reduction, Flow consistently sees better than 80%.  As for implementation, it could not have been easier; to quote Jason, “We just turned them on, and they worked.”

They’ve also seen remarkable side benefits from the implementation, since Steelhead Appliances optimize all network traffic, not just Citrix.  Their EMC RecoverPoint and Microsoft DPM replication traffic, which regularly send terabytes of data across the WAN have been optimized by better than 95%, further freeing large amounts of network bandwidth for their global DFSR data to flow easily across their global network infrastructure. 

The performance enhancements delivered by Flow’s 2010-12-22_1133 Riverbed Steelhead appliances have enabled them to provide application service, data replication, and disaster recovery on their existing virtualized network infrastructure at a level that would not otherwise be possible.  As a result, Flow can focus on implementing new technologies to further enhance business goals and user experience without having to be concerned about network latency and bandwidth limitations.

(By the way, if you like looking at and sharing Riverbed performance numbers and graphs, be sure to check out the Riverbed Performance Hall of Fame!)

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments »

New and Improved Riverbed Chalk Talk Videos

Posted by riverbedtest on December 20, 2010

Riverbed_logo Riverbed's web site provides such a huge collection of information that it's easy sometimes to miss some really valuable and interesting stuff.  A great example is our collection of Chalk Talk videos.    

Each video contains introductory information about its product, presented by a very handsome member of Riverbed's Product Marketing team.  We're always looking for comments and additional topics that we might prepare a video for.There are currently an even dozen of these videos posted, on these topics:

One example video, narrated by an EXTREMELY handsome member of Riverbed's Product Marketing team follows:


The videos are also accessible through the Riverbed corporate web site (click Media & Downloads, Demos & Videos, Chalk Talks).  

Take the time to see them; there's a lot of good information well-presented here.

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Cloud Steelhead and the Public Cloud

Posted by riverbedtest on December 17, 2010

Riverbed customers have been using their Steelheads in private clouds for a number of years now.  Since private cloud infrastructures are dedicated to a single user organization, it's usually not a big deal to physically install a Steelhead appliance behind the router or to configure WCCP in the switches supporting the private cloud.

However, the public cloud is a different matter.  Public cloud users can install their own software applications on into the Cloud, but they lack access to the underlying network infrastructure supporting the public cloud.  Without this access, it's not possible to deploy physical Steelheads into the public cloud network, or to configure WCCP in the switches in order to re-direct traffic to Steelhead software deployed in virtual machines. 

To address this challenge, Riverbed recently introduced Cloud Steelhead, the first and only solution that is specifically designed to deliver WAN optimization services to the public cloud.  Cloud Steelhead is one of two new products introduced by Riverbed in the past month (the other being Riverbed Whitewater).  Unlike other WAN optimization products, Cloud Steelhead can be deployed into a public cloud without configuration changes in the underlying network infrastructure supporting that cloud environment.  Once deployed, these Cloud Steelheads can communicate with Steelhead appliances at the customer's location or Steelhead mobile software clients installed on employee laptops to deliver fast LAN-like performance to public cloud applications.

The Riverbed innovation that makes this possible is the Discovery Agent, which allows traffic to be transparently re-directed to Cloud Steelheads without WCCP, PBR, or physical in-path deployment of the Steelheads.  The Discovery Agent also provides clustering, load balancing, and high availability/failover for WAN optimization services delivered by the Cloud Steelheads–the same capabilities that Riverbed customers enjoy in their private cloud and enterprise Steelhead deployments.

A final key component of Cloud Steelhead is the Riverbed Portal, an online resource used by Riverbed customers to deploy, manage, and monitor their Cloud Steelheads within the public cloud. After logging in to the Riverbed Portal, Riverbed customers activate or extend the Cloud Steelhead licenses that they have purchased from their Riverbed reseller.  The Riverbed Portal also provides detailed central reporting information on the health and status of their Cloud Steelheads.

Posted in Application Acceleration, Private Cloud, Public Cloud, Virtualization | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Letting Others Do Our Job

Posted by riverbedtest on December 16, 2010

I've worked for a bunch of different companies in my career in a variety of roles.  I have never worked for an organization where customers consistently demonstrate as much unbridledEnthusiasm enthusiasm for a vendor's products as they do here at Riverbed.  No, not everything is Heartbeat - Riverbed measure 100% positive, and when there are negatives we work very hard to fix them.  Overall, though, customer response is remarkably positive, and when someone makes negative comments, customers often step in to respond to them before anyone from Riverbed has the chance to. And while we take the positive comments seriously, we take the negative ones far more seriously.

In a separate but related note, a big part of my job as Marketing Evangelist for Riverbed is to search various social media outlets for mentions, positive and negative, of Riverbed.  (As a tangential aside, when both the name of your company and the name of your flagship product are commonly-used nouns, it makes searching for mentions in social media extra-challenging.)

The point of this slightly rambling blog is that during our searches for mentions of Riverbed, we often find some terrific things being written about us in forums that we have absolutely nothing to do with.  (We also find terrific things in forums that we DO have things to do with…)  Here is a fine example:

Spiceworks In a forum called Spiceworks, you can find a discussion which includes the following totally unsolicited excerpt from a topic, written by a user who calls himself rhipkin:

We have just finished our Riverbed implementation. We are seeing improvements of up to 90% in some cases. We are confident of now removing servers from sites and bringing all data back to the head office to the data center.

Riverbed is solid and highly recommended.

Clearly this user has implemented Riverbed Steelhead appliances for WAN Optimization and may have also implemented the RSP (Riverbed Services Platform) to virtualize applications and servers that had been running at his branch offices, and has seen great success doing so.  And he's happy to share the information with the world.

I like to think that these people are on to something…

Posted in Application Acceleration, Bandwidth Optimization, Fun, Site Consolidation, Virtualization | 1 Comment »

Delivering Enterprise Video Effectively via WAN Optimization

Posted by riverbedtest on December 15, 2010

The current issue of Ticker Magazine, published by the Wall Street Technology Association, has a nice feature article by Nik Rouda, Riverbed's Director of Product Marketing, about Delivering Enterprise Video Effectively via WAN Optimization.  

In the article, Nik discusses how important video is becoming to the enterprise, and how much of a strain it can put on your network.  But by properly introducing WAN Optimization, you can reduce the amount of other traffic on the network, and leave additional space for video to flow smoothly.

When properly combined, WAN optimization and video distribution solutions can reduce video traffic by as much as 98 percent with a variety of techniques including stream splitting for live content and deduplication of recorded file transfers.

As corporate video becomes increasingly important, so does proper and efficient WAN utilization.  

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What impact can Riverbed have on a 100Mbps WAN circuit?

Posted by bobegilbert on December 14, 2010

A customer recently shared this screenshot that clearly shows a nearly saturated 100Mbps link almost instantaneously going to less than 20% utilized immediately after installin a couple of Steelhead 6050 appliances.

Riverbed Install

Posted in Bandwidth Optimization | Tagged: , , , | 4 Comments »

Riverbed Whitewater and the Cloud Security Concern

Posted by riverbedtest on December 10, 2010

Whitewater is one of Riverbed's two newest products (with Cloud Steelhead being the other).  This new product allows Riverbed customers to archive their backup data into the Amazon S3 cloud.  Whitewater simply presents out a CIFS or NFS file share, and then all you have to do is point your backup media server to it.  The data received by Whitewater will then be deduplicated and sent into the Amazon cloud.  Whitewater leverages the same advanced deduplication technology that is used in the Riverbed Steelhead product, which is able to recognize common byte-level data patterns at an average 100-byte granularity. 

The Riverbed deduplication technology allows Whitewater to achieve data reduction ratios of between 20:1 to 50:1 for most types of backup data.  For example, if you have 20TB of data, Whitewater will shrink that down to something like 600GB before sending that backup data to the Cloud, yielding cost savings from cloud providers such as Amazon S3 who charge by the amount of GB consumed.

However, Whitewater does more than optimize usage of cloud resources.  It also addresses the top concern by IT professionals when it comes to moving data into the Cloud, which is data security.  Security is a vital concern for potential cloud users since we're talking about a multi-tenant environment where different customers are using the same shared storage infrastructure.

But Whitewater addresses the security issue by encrypting all data with 256-bit AES prior to sending it into the Cloud.  This renders the data into a meaningless blog to anyone except the owner of the private key.  If the cloud provider somehow accidentally allows someone else to access your backup data, you can rest assured that they will not be able to extract any meaningful information from that blob.

Now what if the Whitewater device fails?  Or what if your data center is wiped-out in a 9/11-type event?  How will you recover your cloud-hosted data in these scenarios?  Well all you have to do is obtain a replacement Whitewater device from Riverbed.  As long as you still have the original private key used to encrypt the data (which can be offloaded from the original Whitewater device and sent to a different site for safekeeping), then any Whitewater appliance–even one fresh out of the box–can be used to recover your cloud-resident backup data.

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments »

Live demo of Cloud Steelhead at Riverbed’s Into the Cloud event in NYC

Posted by bobegilbert on December 9, 2010


Posted in Application Acceleration, Public Cloud | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Riverbed, the Gartner Conference in Las Vegas, and AVST

Posted by riverbedtest on December 8, 2010

Riverbed is taking part in Gartner's 2010 Data Center Conference in Las Vegas this week.  

At the conference, Ben Bailey from AVST will present his company's real-world experience with the Riverbed Whitewater Appliance, a cloud storage acceleration solution that provides enterprises with a fast, secure and cost-efficient method to seamlessly integrate cloud storage into their existing backup infrastructure and disaster recovery (DR) strategies, without sacrificing security.  AVST is a leader in unified communications solutions who determined that transitioning from tape-based to cloud-based backup and recovery is an important step in enhancing their overall DR program.

When AVST initially investigated disk-to-disk backup, they found that the cost was prohibitive. AVST is now using the Whitewater cloud storage acceleration appliance to cope with a more than 70% annual increase in data volume.  It's allowed them to reduce weekend backup times by 35% – 40%, improve data restore times by nearly 30% and significantly reduce both OpEx and CapEx. 

The Riverbed Whitewater Appliance enables backups to be run directly across the public cloud, much faster than other solutions, with outstanding end-to-end security, and quick and easy restores in the event of a disaster.


Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment »