The Riverbed Blog (testing)

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Archive for February, 2011

Applications don’t interfere with cloud adoption… it’s the network!

Posted by riverbedtest on February 28, 2011

Last week on TechTarget's Cloud Computing web site, Carl Brooks wrote a piece where he interviewed some IT people in the financial services and other IT-hungry industries about their use of Cloud Computing.  His and their conclusion is that cloud computing adoption will be limited by the performance that critical applications can expect when connecting to remote cloud-based resources.

In the article, he discusses other issues such as the quantity of applications in a typical enterprise IT organization and the infrequency with which older applications get retired.  The migration of applications that were originally written for local environments to cloud environments is another area of discussion. 

Obviously application performance is a major success factor in a pretty much any major IT project, including cloud migration. While Riverbed can't help with migration or reduction of applications, we can most definitely help with issues around application performance when those applications are deployed across a WAN. 

If users are in one or more locations remote to the data center where applications are deployed, then it's a call for Riverbed Steelhead appliances.  We used to call that architecture distributed computing, but nowadays, it's called a Private Cloud.  If you have physical access to both sides of the connection, then Steelhead appliances are the way to go.

Logo_aws If you have applications and other services within Amazon Web Services’ Elastic Cloud Compute (EC2) and Virtual Private Cloud (VPC) environments, then you can get the same kind of performance improvement with Cloud Steelhead.  Since you can't physically enter Amazon's data center and install a Steelhead appliance, a different approach is required, and that's what Cloud Steelhead gives you. 

And if you've got a hybrid cloud (which is really the most common arrangement, after all), you'll need a hybrid solution.  But the bottom line is that if you've got distant computing resources, private or public, then you need WAN Optimization to make sure that your users get the kind of performance that they need to be successful and happy.

Regardless of the architecture, Riverbed will make sure you get the most out of your remote applications.

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Posted in Private Cloud, Public Cloud | 1 Comment »

Taneja Group asks, “Is cloud-enabled DR is ready for prime time?” Riverbed says YES!

Posted by riverbedtest on February 25, 2011

(by Steve Riley and Evan Marcus)

Yes Last month, in an article at InfoStor.com, Jeff Byrne and Jeff Boles of The Taneja Group wondered aloud, Is cloud-enabled DR ready for prime time?  Here at Riverbed, we can confidently answer yes, indeed it is.

Implementing processes and technology for disaster recovery is like going to the dentist: no one enjoys it (well, perhaps dentists and this kid do) but if you don’t do it, eventually your organization will be in a world of hurt and you might be out of a job. Jeff and Jeff quote an Dentist-horrorinformal statistic that 25% of their readers have experienced unplanned outages. We hope you’ll never be part of that. If, however, someday happens to you, then with a little planning, your trip to the DR dentist will go much easier.

We agree with the claim that cloud-based DR eliminates much of the pain traditional approaches impose. While the authors correctly state that cloud-based DR is “a recipe matched to SME needs,” large enterprises, too, can derive the same benefits. In their article, Jeff and Jeff enumerate six challenges that cloud-based DR brings. We’ll briefly discuss how Riverbed’s new Whitewater Cloud Storage Accelerator Appliance (or just "Whitewater") addresses each of them.

  1. Ease of Use: One of the biggest challenges that IT organizations face as they migrate DR to the cloud is that they have to change their infrastructure. They need backup utilities that speak cloud protocols. And then they still have to maintain the old stuff so that they can recover data from the existing DR infrastructure. With Whitewater you don’t have to change your existing backup product at all. You just point your current backup tool at the Whitewater’s NFS or CIFS front-end, and send the backups there just as you always have. 100% compatibility. No need to change technologies. What could be easier?
  2. Security: Whitewater protects your data in transit with SSL and in storage (local and cloud) with 256-bit AES encryption. The data is never stored or transported in cleartext after it leaves its original location. The encryption key is stored in the Whitewater appliance and if something happens to the appliance, you just need to enter the key into a new appliance. And only you have the key. Not Riverbed and not the cloud provider.
  3. Access: Whitewater does something very unusual in the way it handles data that has passed through it into the cloud. It keeps a local copy of the data (encrypted, of course) so that the data can be accessed locally without touching the remote cloud. The result is dramatic improvements in speed and performance when restoring cloud-based backup data. Whitewater also uses the local data store to deduplicate data that’s going out onto the cloud, reducing your cloud costs.
  4. Recovery Time: Since a copy of the most recently backed up data is stored locally within Whitewater, there’s no need to perform most data restores across the cloud. When data does need to be pulled in from across the cloud, it is pulled into Whitewater deduplicated, vastly reducing the time and amount of data that must be moved. The data is reconstituted inside Whitewater and returned to the requesting application in its original form. Apart from the decrease in recovery time, users can’t tell that anything has happened to their data.
  5. Recovery Effort: Administrators don’t need to change the tools that they use to recover data through a Whitewater appliance. They can use the same backup and restore utilities that they use today. The Whitewater appliance will translate between the backup protocol and the cloud protocol and retrieve the backed up data with no changes to procedures and no learning curve.
  6. Provider Lock-In: Whitewater supports two cloud storage APIs today: Amazon S3 and EMC Atmos. You can easily move from one cloud to another simply by changing Whitewater’s destination.

When evaluating cloud-based DR, a question equally important to “how do I get my stuff backed up?” is “how do I get my stuff back after an outage?” This is where Whitewater really shines because of the constant movement and near-instant recovery capabilities of the cloud-via-DR-gateway architecture. How so? The authors allude to it at the end of their article:

Emerging cloud gateway vendors, when enabled by primary storage support and the ability to serve up storage from a virtual appliance, can in effect pre-stage data automatically and make it available to virtual servers in the cloud. Not all cloud gateway solutions can do this, but when they can they will further simplify the recovery process.

Whitewater can do this today. Let’s walk through a hypothetical.

Cloud-data Six months ago you deployed a Whitewater appliance on your network, pointed it to an Amazon S3 bucket, and retargeted your backup software to the appliance. All of your data is securely backed up offsite. Now the Bad Day happens: your phone rings incessantly, bloggers are griping about you, people paid more than you are mobbing your office. Now what? Well, since your data is already in Amazon Web Services, perhaps the AWS cloud can become your temporary data center? With Whitewater Virtual Edition you can start a compute instance that runs a virtualized appliance, import your encryption key, and obtain access to your data. Then you can start some application compute instances, extract your backed up data into live disk volumes, remap your DNS entries, and get back online.

No, it isn’t exactly point-and-click, at least not yet. But with some planning—mostly defining your compute instance types, understanding scale-out requirements, and testing application behavior—you can bring mission critical (read: revenue generating) applications into service in a matter of a few hours. With that out of the way, then, you can begin work on returning to normal.

There…that wasn’t so bad now, was it? Polish your smile—learn more about Riverbed’s cloud-based disaster recovery solutions today.

Posted in Disaster Recovery, Storage Cloud | 1 Comment »

How VDI will break service provider offerings

Posted by riverbedtest on February 24, 2011

I had a fascinating presentation and discussion with a Riverbed customer yesterday. He’s the cloud computing architect for a global manufacturing company, with about 40 locations worldwide. One fact of note is that their entire organization runs on VDI – that’s impressive in and of itself. But what was more interesting to me is that he believes all service providers are currently at least 5 years behind in enabling him to run VDI the way he wants to. In short – he believes service providers are broken when it comes to the next wave of distributed computing.

The architect used a couple of great parallelisms that couldn’t help but make the topic stick in your mind. First – look at the last wave of traffic to move onto the wire – voice. In many cases it was massively challenging for organizations to engineer their environments to support voice effectively throughout – especially if you were including very remote sites or locations that used public internet or satellite as their connection. In the beginning he argued much of this happened through organizations engineering around service providers, instead of with service providers. (Full disclaimer – these are the claims of the customer, not of Riverbed or myself!)

At the time, voice was the essential communication mechanism that could not fail. People frequently spent hours a day on the phone, so both quality and reliability were essential. But another interesting phenomenon happened along the way – the cell phone. Somehow the world at large was OK with going backwards in quality and reliability (does the phrase “Can you hear me now?” sound familiar?). For the enterprise, why was that acceptable? The customer posited two reasons – for one, the benefit of mobility was a productivity enhancer, but two, the phone was simply no longer as important as your interaction with your computer.

For a knowledge worker like myself, this couldn’t be any truer. On a busy day I might spend 1-2 hours on the phone. The rest of the time I’m probably doing something with my computer. In fact, in many cases when I’m on the phone I’m on the computer too! I could much more easily survive without telephone communications than I could survive without computer access in general.

And now back to VDI. For our customer, he discovered two major problems with regards to how he uses his network today. His service provider has difficulty separating out “real-time traffic” like voice from “interactive traffic” like VDI, where intense back-and-forth WAN communications could massively limit the effectiveness of a worker. Moreover, it’s not just downtime that would affect him, but even high latency would drive losses of a few hundred thousand dollars per hour, per office. And since his service provider only reports average latency for the past month, he’s out of luck in terms of proactively addressing the problem.

The other challenge he has is, in some way, to model the way transitioning to VDI or making changes to your setup will impact your end user experience. For example, if you switch to Windows 7 virtual desktops it’s likely that the bandwidth required per session will go up about 40%. It’s easy to say how much network capacity you’ll require based on number of users, but how will a blip in latency impact the user experience? Will it change on Windows 7 versus other platforms?

Technology is going in the right direction – though the architect needs to see it move faster. For example, he can use Steelhead appliances today in order to prioritize VDI traffic above everything else, even voice and video. But the ability to effectively and scalably model the user experience of VDI is a hurdle that he has not been able to overcome, beyond simply making his users or staff sit at a desk, and spend time testing software instead of closing business.

I would be interested in hearing from others – do you have the tools that you need to implement VDI across your distributed environment? 

 

Posted in Application Acceleration, Private Cloud, Virtualization | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »

On the proper use of naughty words around the Riverbed office…

Posted by riverbedtest on February 23, 2011

The “S” word has been thrown around a lot lately at Riverbed HQ in San Francisco, to point where our executive team thought it was time to do something about it.  No, not that “S” word, this is a family-friendly place after all.  The “S” word I’m referring to is solutions as in the sentence: “Wow, them sweet Riverbed solutions sure have saved my bacon!”

The problem with this particular “S” word is it gets bandied about so often it’s lost all meaning, much 1083424_market_on_the_rise__1 like that other overused attention-getter the “C” word, by which I mean cloud of course.  The word solution is trotted out there any time someone wants to sound like they’re selling something more than a point product.  The word cloud is tacked on anytime a company wants to increase its stock multiple. 

Bar-of-soap-in-mouth Right, then if these words are bad, why are we using them so much?  It all goes back to the basic reasons these words got so popular in the first place.  A solution by definition solves problems.  The cloud by definition introduces new options on how to do IT.

Riverbed is having a serious re-think as we evolve from a single technology offering into a grown up IT-performance player.  As phenomenally cool as Steelhead appliances are, we’ve decided it’s high time we broadened the portfolio.  Why?  Simple answer: to better serve our customers needs.

So rather than being just an extremely profitable WAN optimization box shifter, we bring to the table proper solutions that include:

  • Application Aware Network Performance Management for more visibility, faster problem resolution, and better alignment of IT to the business needs
  • Cloud Storage Acceleration for easy integration of data protection with public cloud storage and Cumulus_clouds_in_fair_weather the promised benefits
  • Advanced Quality of Service to better control and prioritize traffic, not just make it faster and slimmer
  • Vertical Expertise to address the biggest pain points of your specific industry
  • Professional Services for training, consulting, and award winning support around the globe
  • Technology Alliances with Industry Leaders for advanced features and reduced integration risk
  • A wide range of Channel Partners for added value in bundling and delivering complementary offerings, giving you more buying options

What do you get when a company broadens its focus beyond just having the best flagship WAN optimization product family?  You get well rounded, customer-oriented solutions to solve real challenges you face in IT performance.  That, my friends, is a solution, and that’s the new Riverbed vision. 

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Delivering Local-like performance for RemoteFX over the WAN

Posted by bobegilbert on February 22, 2011

Today, Microsoft announced the availability of SP1 for Windows 2008 R2.  One of the key capabilities included in SP1 is RemoteFX, which is Microsoft's next-generation desktop virtualization platform. 

RemoteFX leverages the power of virtualized graphics resources and advanced codecs to recreate the fidelity of hardware-assisted graphics acceleration, including support for 3D content and Windows Aero, on a remote user’s device. This allows for a local-like, remote user experience over a variety of possible host, client and network configurations. Dynamic Memory is a new memory management feature of Windows Server 2008 R2 Hyper-V. 

RemoteFX is optimized to deliver performance to users located on a local area network.  Riverbed extends the local performance experience to RemoteFX users located over a WAN.  Riverbed's Steelhead family of WAN optimization products allow the RemoteFX protocol to more fully utilize the available WAN bandwidth, and significantly increase the number of frames per second of a RemoteFX session, resulting in a smoother, higher fidelity user experience.

Remotefx

Riverbed optimizes Microsoft RemoteFX traffic over the WAN:

  • For office-type users over the WAN
  • Reduce TCP bandwidth consumption over the WAN, increasing productivity
  • Supports remotely rendered WMP files, and streamed WMP, Microsoft Silverlight, and Flash video 

Here is a demo of Riverbed accelerating RemoteFX

 

You can find out more about the RemoteFX SP1 announcement today by reading Microsoft's blog. You can also download a trial of of RemoteFX SP1 here.

 

 

Posted in Application Acceleration, Bandwidth Optimization | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

Another glaring example of the confusion surrounding cloud storage

Posted by bobegilbert on February 16, 2011

Network_computing

Tom trainer recently blogged in Network Computing about how EMC could become the Amdahl of cloud storage.  Tom starts off his blog by saying that there are some fundamental issues around how EMC sells its Atmos cloud storage platform to customers.  The key issue he focuses on is how EMC charges for storage up front and not for storage that is used.  According to Tom, the utility aspect of cloud storage is missing from Atmos.

This is totally incorrect as EMC sells Atmos to service providers such as AT&T, who in turn sell cloud storage to their customers.  AT&T's service is called Synaptic and it is indeed based on a utility or pay for what you use model.

Personally I believe the more accurate cloud storage discussions should be around how to address the roadblocks that exist when deploying cloud storage.  Specifically, how to deploy cloud storage without changing your backup platform ecosystem.  What about ensuring security when transferring data to the cloud and ultimately storing your sensitive data in the cloud?  And obviously performance?  If you move to a cloud storage environment, the performance when accessing that disk in the sky will be much slower compared to your local area network environment. 

I will end my rant with a shameless plug.  Riverbed's recently launched Whitewater product addresses the cloud storage roadblocks and enables organizations to seamlessly deploy cloud storage and reap all the cloudy benefits that you would expect.  This includes paying for only what you use.

You can watch a demo of Whitewater here:

 

 

 

 

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

Space – the final frontier (for WAN optimization)

Posted by riverbedtest on February 15, 2011

Today's guest blogger is Naveen Prabhu, Product Marketing Manager here at Riverbed.

DSCS_SatInSpaceLockheedMartin In November of last year, we acquired a company called Global Protocols, the leading developer of commercial SCPS-TP. SCPS-TP or the Space Communications Protocol Specification – Transport Protocol (if you are not into brevity) is a protocol that enhances data communication over high latency, low bandwidth links.  These characteristics define the problems encountered by users of Satellite Networks. Such networks also tend to be affected by a higher degree of loss (Bit Error Rate), and this makes standard TCP very inefficient (think: slow start, smaller window sizes).

Skipware, as Global Protocols' implementation of SCPS-TP is known, has become, over the years, the de facto standard for protocol optimization over satellite networks in Government and DoD deployments. Skipware can do a lot of things regular WAN optimization can't , and conversely WAN optimization can offer certain things like data deduplication that Skipware does not support. 

It is this synergistic combination of the two technologies that makes 2 + 2 = 5.

Riverbed's Steelhead appliances offer native support for LTTS (Loss Tolerant Transport for Satellite) Top_secret_ver1 as well as TCP Westwood, which provides satellite optimization bandwidth estimation (yeah, we need to come up with a better marketing term for this one!), Skipware acts as a catalyst to these native improvements and gives an extra boost to data Fantasy-carnival-cruise-shipcommunication over these skinny high latency links.

So whether you're working out in the field on a top secret mission or vacationing on a cruise ship, you can be rest assured that Riverbed's got your back!

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

Sharing some Riverbed love

Posted by riverbedtest on February 14, 2011

Three-red-hearts-clipart I've written before about how great it is to be part of a company about which customers, columnists, and industry analysts consistently say such nice things.  I thought that for Valentine's Day I'd share some examples of the love that Riverbed gets shown on a regular basis. 

One of the places that our users get to show us some love is in our Riverbed Performance Hall of Fame (PHOF).  We encourage our users to brag about the performance improvements that they've seen since they implemented their Steelhead appliances with text and with graphics.  Here are a couple of examples with links back to the listings on the Performance Hall of Fame page.  You'll find lots more on the page itself.  (When you visit, please be sure you spend a few minutes awarding Kudos (votes) to some of the entries that you like.)

Steelheads Rev Up Internet Cafes in Afghanistan.  My recent favorite comes from our troops in Afghanistan Afghanistan, where they use Steelhead appliances to enhance performance at Internet Cafes that support the Morale, Welfare, and Recreation (MWR) needs of the troops.

540.84X BW Optimization to one application … Amazing 🙂 This unbelievable statistic is shown graphically in this PHOF entry.  They saw a reduction in bandwidth of better than 99%, cutting WAN traffic from 1220GB to about 2 1/2 GB.

Analysts are showing us some love too.  The results of Gartner's WAN Optimization Magic Quadrant, which were released last month, made a lot of people smile over here.  And, InfoWorld named us their WAN Optimization product of the Year for the sixth straight time.

We see a lot of love on Twitter too.

Untitled So yeah, there's lots of love around for Riverbed.  If you've got wide area networks, you should take a look.  You'll love what we can do for you, too.

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10 Important Steelhead Features that you can’t get from other vendors

Posted by riverbedtest on February 11, 2011

Top 10 list 2010-resized-600.jpg With the recent announcement of RiOS 6.5, Riverbed continues to extend its product and technology leadership.  There are now more features and capabilities that are unique to Riverbed than there ever have been before.  Below is a partial list of the key features available from Riverbed that you will not be able to find in any other WAN optimization vendor's products.  Note that this is a partial list, in that I've omitted unique features such as Lotus Notes and Oracle E-Business Suite optimization that may not be important for many customers.

1)  Optimization for encrypted MAPI:  MAPI traffic is now encrypted by default in Exchange 2007 and Topten 2010.  While other vendors may be able to provide MAPI optimizations, to use those products you have to disable the default encryption setting in the Exchange 2007/2010 server.  But with Riverbed, you get fast encrypted MAPI performance without compromising security.

2)  Latency optimization for Outlook Anywhere (RPC over SSL) traffic:  Outlook Anywhere allows Outlook users to obtain emails without using a VPN.  It provides the IT organization with unprecedented flexibility and options for supporting email users.  And now, email delivered through Outlook Anywhere can be just as fast as when delivered through optimized MAPI when using the Steelhead solution.  Riverbed is the only WAN optimization vendor that offers this capability.

3)  Optimization for SMB-Signed CIFS traffic:  SMB-signing is a Microsoft feature providing for enhanced authentication security for CIFS traffic.  Riverbed is the only vendor who can provide both bandwidth and latency optimizations for CIFS traffic that is protected through SMB-signing.

4)  SMBv2 Optimization:  SMBv2 is the new CIFS protocol available in Windows 2008 R2 servers and Windows Vista and Windows 7 workstations.  While it is somewhat less chatty than the previous SMB version 1 protocol used in earlier Windows software, nevertheless there are some protocol inefficiencies.  Riverbed is the only WAN optimization vendor capable of natively providing both bandwidth and latency optimizations for SMBv2, without forcing the Windows client and server to use the older CIFS protocol.

Imagestop10 5)  Optimization for applications requiring client-side SSL certificate authentication:  In some highly-sensitive environments, password-based authentication simply isn't enough.  When this is the case, sensitive applications may require that the client provide its SSL certificate for authentication before allowing access.  Riverbed is the only vendor who can optimize SSL connections when the application server demands certificate-based authentication for all clients attempting to access data.

6)  Optimizations for EMC SRDF and FCIP traffic:  Since the RiOS 6.1 release, the Steelhead has been EMC_logo_2004_color2 able to intelligently apply its algorithms to SRDF and FCIP traffic by recognizing application-specific fields and markers within the data flow.  RiOS 6.5 introduced a new feature that selectively applies the appropriate optimization level for data from common RDF groups within the SRDF session.  This new feature conserves storage capacity in the Steelhead, and leads to further improvements in overall data reduction effectiveness.  As with the other items on this list, these SRDF-specific capabilities are only available from Riverbed.

7)  Data Store synchronization:  Riverbed is the only vendor with the capability to synchronize data stores to a redundant Steelhead appliance.  This is particularly important when HA requirements dictate that there be no performance degradation in the event of device failure.  With Riverbed, a Steelhead's data store can be replicated in real time to a clustered Steelhead.  Failure of any Steelhead does not result in a cold data store, because the standby Steelhead has a copy of the failed Steelhead's data store.  Riverbed is the only vendor with this capability.

Mac-os-x[1] 8)  Mobile Software Client for Macintosh OSX:  A software client is becoming increasingly important as Top_ten__waynes_world_ enterprises provide WAN optimization benefits to their mobile users.  With the increasing popularity of Apple products, it's important to realize that Riverbed's Steelhead Mobile is the only WAN optimization software client available to users of the Macintosh OSX operating system.

9)  Optimization-aware dedicated load balancing device:  Riverbed's Interceptor appliance is the only dedicated load balancer device specifically designed to provide optimization-aware deployment scaling.  Specifically, the Interceptor is the only product to perform intelligent load balancing decisions that maximize the probability of a "warm" data store hit when distributing TCP connections to a cluster of WAN optimization appliances.

Cumulus_clouds_in_fair_weather 10)  Cloud Steelhead with transparent discovery agent:  Riverbed offers the only WAN optimization product that is capable of being deployed into a public cloud infrastructure, without the need to install new physical devices or configure switch-based traffic re-routing within that Cloud infrastructure.  This is only possible due to Riverbed's introduction of the cloud discovery agent.

Posted in Uncategorized | 6 Comments »

Riverbed supports San Francisco Food Bank

Posted by bobegilbert on February 10, 2011

Www.sffoodbank 

In San Francisco alone, 197,000 people struggle each day to feed themselves and their families. 237,000 is the number of people who live at or below 185% of the federal poverty line in San Francisco and Marin – $33,873 per year for a family of three. It's at this income level that children are eligible for Free and Reduced Price Meals and families are eligible for WIC. Very often, these families lack the resources to provide enough food to consistently nourish themselves.

To assist with the effort, San Francisco-based Riverbed Technology recently donated a $25,000 check.  This money is in addition to the ongoing support provided by Riverbed employees as they donate their own money and volunteer their time to help feed the needy.

Here is a clip of Riverbed CEO Jerry Kennelly being interviewed by CBS news.

  

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