The Riverbed Blog (testing)

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Archive for April, 2011


Posted by bobegilbert on April 29, 2011

For a spring Friday, we offer something a little different.  Our own Nik Rouda, Director of Solutions Marketing, was reading Alice in Wonderland to his daughters the other night, and the next morning, in his words, "this just came pouring out."  So we offer it without comment. 

Poetry is so rare in blogs these days.

(adapted from Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There, 1872)

`Twas latent, and the slithy tovesJabberwiki
Did gyre and gimble in the WAN:
All mimsy were the admingoves,  
And the network raths outgran.   

"Beware the Jabberwiki, my son!
The delays that bite, the waits that catch!
Beware the Webweb bird, and shun
The frumious Bandwidthsnatch!"

He took his Wiral Shark aloud:
Long time the manxome SLA he sought – 
So rested he by the Tumtum cloud,
And stood awhile in thought.

And, as in uffish thought he stand,
The Jabberwiki, with eyes of blame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey WAN,
And burbled as it came!

One, two! One, two! And through and through
The vorpal Steelhead went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
He went galumphing back.

"And, has thou sped the Jabberwiki?
Come to my arms, my VMish boy!
O fastest day! Callooh! Callay!'
He chortled in his joy.

`Twas latent, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the WAN;
All mimsy were the admingoves,
And the network raths outgran.

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Interop is coming! And Riverbed is all over it!

Posted by riverbedtest on April 28, 2011

Are you going to be at Interop '11 at the Mandalay Bay in Fabulous Las Vegas starting on May 8?  Riverbed sure will.  We're going to be all over this show.  There's so much going on it's hard to know where to begin.

478 First of all, we are a global Interop sponsor and the sponsor for registration

There's the CIO Boot Camp on Sunday and Monday the 8th and 9th.  We're also a sponsor of that event, Vegas sign and we'll have a couple of speakers there:

Our customer Ben Bailey of AVST will be joined by Riverbed's CIO, Thomas Bakewell, for a presentation called Case Study: Developing Disaster Recovery in the Cloud, Monday from 1 to 1:30. 

Steve Riley, one of our most prolific bloggers and a member of Riverbed's Office of the CTO, will take part in two panel discussions at Interop:

  • Optimizing Hybrid Cloud Communications Monday at 3:35pm and,
  • The New Age of WAN Optimization Thursday at 11:30am.

As for the IT Expo (the vendor fair) which opens Tuesday at 10am, we'll have the largest booth in Riverbed history (1500 square feet!); you shouldn't have a lot of trouble finding us in Booth 1927.  Among the things you'll find going on in the booth are:

  • Ongoing live product demonstrations at six different stations:
    • Steelhead appliances
    • Cascade
    • Steelhead Mobile
    • Riverbed Services Platform (RSP)
    • Whitewater
    • Cloud Steelhead
  • Presentation Theater, where a rotating group of Riverbed people (including yours truly… come by and say hello!) will give live 5-10 minute presentations and demos throughout the IT Expo.  All attendees get a free t-shirt, and are entered for a chance to win an iPad 2 each day.  There will also be some customers and other presentations mixed in.
  • Wednesday at 3pm, we're taking part in the Interop Booth Crawl, which means that not only will you be able to learn all about Riverbed and WAN Optimization, but you'll also be able to have some adult beverages served to you by our own bartender.
  • We'll also be running a Twitter-based contest called Speed The Cloud, where you'll have another chance to win a $500 Apple Gift Card by guessing how long it'll take to download a file from a Cloud provider in Virginia to our Interop booth, both optimized and unoptimized.  The winner will be entry with the closest guesses, based on the results of a live booth demonstration at about 2:00pm on Thursday, the final day of the IT Expo.  Details coming soon. 

If you're going to be at Interop '11, make sure you stop by the booth and get a t-shirt, and say hi.  We'd love to hear from you!

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Network World: IT pros name their favorite IT product

Posted by bobegilbert on April 27, 2011


Network World recently published the results of conversations they had with several IT professionals about their favorite IT products. 

A couple of the IT professionals shared that Riverbed was their favorite product.  Below are links to the story and a couple of quotes.
Christopher Luter, Department of Children and Families, State of Wisconsin
Steelhead appliance

Link here

“With the Riverbed Steelhead appliance, we experience LAN-like speed at all times. Our employees are able to access information almost instantaneously, enabling them to serve the families of Wisconsin to the best of their ability. It delivers exactly as promised. First time, first try.”

Jason Irby, Pacific Dental Services
Riverbed Cascade

Link here

“As far as I am concerned, managing a production environment without Riverbed Cascade is the evolutionary equivalent of not having opposable thumbs. There is no way I could have my hands around our challenging environment without the use of our Cascade server.  Our total investment with the Riverbed product was fully justified by day nine through reducing problem resolution times and avoidance of production gaps.”



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OMG! The Sky is Falling!

Posted by riverbedtest on April 26, 2011

Images Last Thursday morning I woke up to the kind of headline in the New York Times that I hadn't seen in years. "Amazon Cloud Failure Takes Down Web Sites" it read.  Wow.  An article about downed computers.  That takes me back.  I haven't seen those since the late '90s and early '00s (we still don't have a name for that decade, do we?), when security glitches and outages affected major web sites and became front page news.

Probably the least surprising thing about complex computers and computing networks is that from time to time they go down.  In fact, I'm more surprised when they stay up.  After all, what is the Public Cloud but a collection of computers.  Adding virtual computing doesn't change the fact Blueprints Coverthat there are physical computers underlying the virtual machines.  In fact, the addition of VMs to the mix just makes for more complexity and more things that can fail. 

Back in 2003, I wrote a book on Highly Available Systems Design, and while we didn't write about virtual  machines or public cloud computing, the principles really haven't changed all that much.  Since every component of a Exploding-earthcomputer system can fail, if you want truly reliable computing you must foresee these outages and  build protections into the system, and eliminate as much of the complexity as possible.  Of course you have to balance that with cost; the larger and rarer the prospective outage, the harder and more expensive it is to protect against it.  And if you take that to its ultimate extreme, you soon realize that the Earth is a single point of failure, and there's not much we can do about it.

So newspapers are reporting about computing outages again.  I look at it in a couple of ways.

  1. The publicity is ultimately GOOD for the Public Cloud Computing industry.  Why?  Because ALL publicity is good, and because in the end more people will learn about Cloud Computing.  
  2. Because companies will learn from their mistakes and build in better protections so that the same failures won't cause the same kind of outage next time.
  3. The first time around, one of the companies who had some of the most widely-publicized failures was  They seem to have gotten past those early problems, and I hear they're doing pretty well these days.


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Mazu Networks Acquisition, Two Years Later

Posted by bobegilbert on April 25, 2011

Today's Guest Blogger is Alex Alvarez, the Senior Director for Worldwide Sales in Riverbed's Cascade Group. 

With the acquisition of Mazu Networks on February 19th 2009, Riverbed embarked on a journey to Mazu become a multi-product company and a leader in application aware network performance management (NPM).  I was working at Mazu when Riverbed acquired us.  The economy was struggling, and while it was good to find a home at Riverbed, many people inside and outside the company were unclear on how well Mazu would fit into a WAN Optimization company.

After a year of working through acquisition issues, cross training and product integration plans, I knew the acquisition was going to be successful about one year in when I started meeting customers like Thomas Prokop of Consol Energy, who taking advantage of the combined Cascade/Steelhead solution to Sharkfest11_170x400 get real business benefits. Tom told me having both products mad a real  Consol-energy difference for him. Customers like Tom enabled Cascade sales to double in the first year after Riverbed's acquisition, which was, of course, very exciting for us and our customers.

It was a game-changing moment when Riverbed doubled down in November of 2010, and became a NPM leader with the acquisition of CACE Technology.  In one CACELogo_New move the Cascade NPM product line was made complete by adding packet analysis. Loris Degioanni and Gerald Combs joined the Riverbed team and with our co-founder Steve McCanne form our troika of packet capture and analysis pioneers.

I have never been involved with a product used so often by so many.  Wireshark is used by everyone involved in networking; we see hundreds of thousands of downloads per month. Taking on the responsibility as the corporate sponsor of Wireshark engages Riverbed with the packet analysis community in a unique way. The upcoming Sharkfest ’11 will be the first for Riverbed and we are all looking forward to meeting the Wireshark community at this very special event.

WiresharkI am very excited about the future as we continue to integrate Pilot and Shark into Cascade’s product line and grow the capability of Pilot, the packet analysis product with the coolest reviews. Often called Wireshark on steroids, Pilot takes Wireshark users to the next level and helps our Steelhead customers get the most from their investment.  With great customers, partners, and product synergy the future looks rosy. 

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Nobel Prizes and Cloud Steelhead

Posted by riverbedtest on April 22, 2011

What do the 2010 Nobel Prize in Physics and the launch of Cloud Steelhead 1.1 have in common?  

NobelprizeBoth are seminal achievements that are much easier to understand than they may otherwise seem.  While the result of dragging scotch tape through pencil shavings earned the Two Russian-born scientists the sciences greatest honor, Cloud Steelhead has the ability to earn you a similar distinction within your organization. 

With this release Cloud Steelhead adds compatibility for ESX-based public cloud environments and extends cloud partner ecosystem.  

Cloud Steelhead now offers validated technical compatibility with a number of cloud service providers, including Terremark, ZettaServe and Xtium, as well as solution technology partners CloudSwitch and Media Platform. These companies join Amazon EC2 and VPC as part of the wide ecosystem of cloud services supported by Cloud Steelhead.

Just as Alfred Nobel made his name with a BANG, Cloud Steelhead can be just as impactful on your cloud infrastructure, by speeding your migration to and performance from the cloud for all of the applications you run from Amazon Web Services or other ESX based enviornments.  Just think, all of these benefits, without that pesky trip to Sweden….

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Riverbed drinks its own wine

Posted by bobegilbert on April 20, 2011

Riverbed Backup Administrator Jim Clayton shares how he uses his company's Whitewater product to enable him to do data backup smarter and in a more cost effective manner.


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XenDesktop at the Speed of Now

Posted by riverbedtest on April 19, 2011

Speedometer Today Riverbed announced the expansion of our abilities to accelerate and control the broadest range of virtual desktop environments over the WAN.  We are adding enhanced support for Citrix XenDesktop joining our existing coverage for the virtual desktop solutions from leading providers like Microsoft and VMware. Customers who deploy Steelhead products in a virtual desktop environment are able to overcome the WAN performance issues that bottleneck virtual desktop deployments, significantly enhancing virtual desktop end-user productivity and helping speed the adoption of virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI).  This announcement is particularly important in light of the many recent developments we’ve seen in the VDI space.     XenDesktopLogo

The convergence of a number of trends in the server and OS market are propelling an increased interest in desktop virtualization.  The enormous success that server virtualization projects have had at helping customers achieve the promised benefits of greater flexibility, lower costs, and improved data management have driven rapid growth in the space as well as increased interest in identifying other opportunities to realize these benefits.  Server virtualization vendors have made significant improvements in their desktop virtualization products, committing more resources and attention on them to eliminate legacy concerns regarding functionality and performance.  VDI graph The increased focus by vendors on desktop virtualization meets a surge demand for OS and client systems as organizations have anointed Windows 7 as the true successor to XP and have initiated refresh cycles.  With a total addressable market of 35 million servers vs 370-600 million enterprise desktops these contravening forces suggest continued growth in this space along with corresponding increases in emphasis by product and solution vendors. 

The primary challenges limiting the adoption of VDI are similar to the challenges of centralized architectures: application performance and bandwidth utilization.  VDI products are particularly susceptible to this as poor responsiveness typically manifests itself not merely as slow application performance but also impacts higher priority tasks leading to sluggish mouse movements and keystrokes.  Additionally, recommendations of up to 256k of bandwidth per user session, which are typically both compressed and encrypted, levies a significant bandwidth tax for usage and also limits the ability for third party technologies to try to ensure quality of service and performance.

Riverbed plays a central role-enabling server centralization and virtualization projects and is well D737~Speed-Racer-Go-Speed-Posters positioned to leverage this success in the desktop virtualization space.   One of the Steelhead products' key differentiators is the ability to optimize across applications and protocols.  That is particularly valuable as organizations rely on their networks to support multiple applications and uses.  This versatility is relevant to VDI as users often run additional applications and services outside of their network stream. 

In addition, Riverbed provides additional benefits to VDI deployments by addressing the inherent difficulties of performance and bandwidth utilization in the virtual desktop stream.  This functionality enhances software solutions from major vendor including Citrix XenDesktop and XenApp, VMware View, Microsoft RDP and RemoteFX.  By addressing the fundamental limitations of virtual desktops across vendors while also providing optimization for all other traffic on the WAN, Riverbed is strongly positioned to promote its solution in the virtual desktop space.

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Accelerating South Africa

Posted by riverbedtest on April 18, 2011

I just returned from a too-short trip to South Africa.  Last week we held User Forums in both Flagbig Capetown  and Johannesburg, and I was the primary speaker.  This was a most enlightening visit.

IMG_0480 We started in Cape Town, and for the first day's meeting we drove about 45 minutes from our hotel in downtown Cape Town to a beachfront restaurant in Melkbosstrand, a township within Cape Town.  Die Damhuis ("The Dam House") is the oldest building in Melkbosstrand and used to be a private homestead next to a dam. The building has been declared a National Monument and has been restored to its former glory to accommodate the beachfront restaurant.  We met with about 10 local customers and at least one Riverbed prospect.  It made a beautiful and memorable venue for our meeting.

The second day we met in a fairly conventional hotel, the Melrose Arch, in JAfricamapohannesburg where we had about 15 customers, including two from as far away as Kenya.

In each venue, and despite some nasty jet lag, I spoke for about 2 1/2 hours and the audience was extremely attentive and interested and asked many questions.  The biggest differences that I heard about between WAN Optimization in the US and in South Africa are:

  1. Wide area networking and network connectivity in South Africa is slow, unreliable, expensive, and generally of poor quality.  This means that as valuable as Steelhead appliance functionality is here in the US and other areas where network connectivity is good, it's even more important in South Africa, where IT organizations can get satisfactory amounts of data through these unreliable and inconsistent pipes.
  2. Cloud services are virtually non-existent in South Africa.  I spent some time talking about Whitewater and Cloud Steelhead before I learned that these powerful technologies are still a few years away from being useful in this part of the world.
  3. There was more interest in our satellite-based optimization (Skipware) than I have seen when speaking with US customers.  That's not hard to understand given the remoteness of many of the locations in Africa where networking services are required. 

IMG_0537IMG_0569 IMG_0497




Before I flew home Thursday  night, I got to spend a few hours at The Lion Park, a sort of game reserve and zoo (though their web site says it's neither of those things), where I had the chance to see some really cool animals (zebras, giraffes, hyenas, antelopes, cheetahs, meerkats, and others) up close and personal, and even got to pet some white lion cubs.  (I took all of the photos in today's blog posting.)

IMG_0489 IMG_0547IMG_0585

  Special thanks to Vanessa White, Melissa Craig, Christo Briedenhann, and Retha Meiring who help cover Africa for Riverbed, and who made this trip an absolute pleasure! 

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Do competitor products work as well as Riverbed?

Posted by riverbedtest on April 15, 2011

Approach any Riverbed competitor and ask them why you should consider their product, and they'll likely give you the answer, "…because our product works just like Riverbed, but it's much cheaper…"

At first this claim might seem non-controversial.  Certainly, the "it's cheaper" aspect may not be difficult to prove.  But the first part of that claim–"it works just like Riverbed"–might take some digging to understand.  How can you really tell if the competitor product is as effective as Riverbed?  Here are five questions that I believe are key to answering that question:

Osi_7_layer_model 1) Does the competitor offer layer-7 application-specific optimization capabilities for all of your  important apps?  To distract from weak or non-existent application-specific optimization capabilities, Riverbed competitors often draw attention to their compression and byte-level data deduplication  features of their product.  But the reality is that just about every WAN optimization product can perform data compression.  What competitor products universally lack is the breadth and diversity of Riverbed's layer-7 optimization capabilities.  The list is quite extensive–SMBv2 (important if you use Windows 7), encrypted MAPI (important for Exchange 2010), Citrix ICA and CGP, Oracle E-business suite (for both JRE and JInitiator), SSL (for encrypted web applications), SRDF (for EMC customers), NFS (for Unix environments), and a number of others.  These capabilities are necessary not only to address latency and protocol chattiness issues, but also data encoding or encryption performed by the application that can hinder the effectiveness of data deduplication algorithms.

Universal 2)  Does the product use a universal data store or a per-peer data store? I've commented in past blogs about the importance of the universal data store used in Riverbed Steelhead products.  The reality is that a WAN optimization deployment will not scale with the per-peer data store used by most competitors, and this has been demonstrated in numerous failed WAN optimization deployment attempts, including by many current Riverbed customers who previously attempted to use a different vendor's product.  If you have a large enterprise infrastructure with tens or hundreds of networked remote locations, my suggestion is to not be tempted to believe that you will be the exceptional customer who is skilled-enough to avoid the scaling issues that have afflicted so many other customers.

Redwood-multipurpose-knife-600x600 3)  Is the vendor's products useful for all my requirements?  One vendor may claim they excel in Disaster Recovery applications.  Another might claim their product works better for ICA thin client traffic.  Other vendors specialize in QoS.  Still another might claim they work well in branch office consolidation environments, although they don't have a mobile software client.  The reality is that purchasing from any of these vendors will lead to a fragmented multi-vendor strategy where each vendor product focuses on a narrow set of WAN optimization requirements.  This leads to wasteful and inefficient allocation of management, support, and operational resources.  Riverbed is the only WAN optimization vendor that can comprehensively meet all of your WAN optimization needs, including for QoS, cloud, mobile, data center, branch office, and virtual appliance requirements.

Survey-form 4)  Are other customers happy with the vendor's products?  Competitors are quite eager to make claims of parity or even superiority to Riverbed, but often they are less willing to back up their claims by letting you talk to their other customers.  My suggestion is that before you spend your resources in evaluating and testing any vendor's products, that you first demand to talk to other customers who are happy with those products.  While this very reasonable request might seem to be easy-to-fulfill, the reality is that for many vendors it often is not.

Garage_sale 5)  Why is the competitor product cheaper in the first place?  Vendors such as Cisco are known for premium prices.  Cisco's core switching and routing products are not necessarily superior to those from competitors, but customers are accustomed to paying higher prices for them merely because they are purchasing from the dominant equipment vendor.  But in the WAN optimization market, things are different, where Cisco claims their products are the same as Riverbed, except cheaper.  Somehow, there seems to be an inconsistency to this logic.  I believe the key question is this:  if Cisco WAAS products were truly equivalent to those from Riverbed, then would they be cheaper?

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