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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.

6 Responses to “10 Important Steelhead Features that you can’t get from other vendors”

  1. Anonymous said

    I do not doubt that Riverbed is better than Cisco for it is all Riverbed does. But my company is looking to deploy WAAS due to the fact that the Cisco WAAS Express is built into the new ISR G2 routers we are deploying at remote offices. I like Riverbed, I just don’t think it is a good choice given todays network architectures and budget constraints… I would much rather save my budget for other long term projects.

  2. Josh Tseng said

    Good luck with WAAS Express. Feel free to come back to us if you discover that you still have latency-related performance issues while using WAAS Express. After all, it doesn’t have any of the layer-7 AO’s that are in the main WAAS product (no CIFS, no MAPI, no NFS, etc.). It also lacks disk-based data reduction–the only thing WAAS Express does is basic RAM-only DRE with a few 100 MB of data store capacity. BTW, you will still need to deploy WAAS appliances in your data center and to configure WCCP in your data center switches.

  3. anon said

    Cisco WAAS with WCCP in the core is a disaster waiting to happen. Not all switches support it (limited support on the 4500’s for example) and those that do require extensive testing. You really need an extensive lab and test setup to get all the pieces right.

  4. Peter said

    I am not sure but Cisco WAAS claims Client Side Cert support for SSL as well? Is it a marketing statement only?

  5. Josh Tseng said

    Hi Peter,
    Cisco WAAS does have a feature that they call “client certificate authentication” but it is not the same thing. Cisco’s approach is different in that it’s the WAAS device—and not the application server—that is performing the client-side certificate authentication. Cisco’s approach requires that any cert-based authentication performed by the application be disabled before their WAAS-based client authentication feature can be used.
    There are some downsides to consider with Cisco’s approach that requires all cert-based authentication of the client be done by the WAAS device:
    1) If certificate-based client authentication cannot be disabled for a particular application, then WAAS cannot optimize SSL traffic for that application.
    2) If the WAAS device fails or is offlined for any reason, then there will be no cert-based authentication of the client taking place at all, and you will have lost important security protection for your application.
    3) For customers who do not have WAAS deployed at all remote sites, it may be an awkward and difficult configuration process to have WAAS perform the client authentication at the sites that do have a WAAS device, and for the application server to perform authentication for those sites that don’t have a WAAS device.

  6. Peter said

    Thank you Josh. All is clear now.

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