The Riverbed Blog (testing)

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Archive for June, 2011

Old Westbury Solves network performance problems with Riverbed Cascade

Posted by bobegilbert on June 29, 2011

Searchcio

A Riverbed customer was recently spotlighted in SearchCIO.  This is a nice example that demonstrates how important the role of behavioral analytics is to a network monitoring solution.

The following customer quote describes one of the ways that Westbury uses the advanced analytics capability of Riverbed Cascade to proactively solve network performance problems.

 "You can actually feed data back into Riverbed's Cascade and let it run on autopilot, so that it can build up its own behavioral analysis. Someone uses their own environment Monday through Friday, 9-5, and then suddenly their machine turns on and is being used on a Sunday afternoon. Now it's possible that they're just catching up on work, but it's also possible that it's been hijacked. The system will flag that, and the human can follow up with that."

For more information about Riverbed's Cascade product, please visit http://www.riverbed.com/us/products/cascade/index.php

Posted in Visibility | Leave a Comment »

Cloudy with a chance of data

Posted by riverbedtest on June 28, 2011

by Michael Kreiger, VP Market Experts with Ziff Davis Enterprise.

What’s in a name?  A lot, when it comes to Cloud Computing, one of the buzzword darlings of the 21st century.  To IT old-timers it’s a return to mainframes and dumb terminals of decades ago.  To others, it represents a new way of defining the relationship between man and machine.  To me, it’s a bit of both.

Last week I had the opportunity to share the just-released May 2011 Baseline Magazine research study on Cloud Computing with a number of my friends at Riverbed’s world headquarters here in San Francisco, thanks to special dispensation from Ziff Davis Enterprise research director Guy Currier.  Here are some highlights from the study and the lively discussion that followed.

First, we found that the major attraction of the cloud wasn’t so much cost savings as it was about versatility – being able to scale at a moment’s notice both up and out.  And cloud customers are looking for the right toolset – including management tools – to allocate, secure and integrate cloud offerings into their existing operations seamlessly.

We talked at length about the technical definition of Cloud Computing – but what it  boiled down to during our discussion was this:  “Rapid scalability for a fair price”.  Whether you’re using Cloud backup or a hosted CRM application, having that versatility at your (or your users’) fingertips seems to be the resonating point in this whole cloud market.

A major cloud driver we discussed was the cascading growth in the amount of storage that organizations generate daily.  If you believe in the adage that “storage that exists in only one place is storage you don’t care about” then you’ll understand why backup and archiving are entry points to cloud computing for many an enterprise.  Moving these tedious tasks from on-site tapes to remote cloud-located disks not only frees up local resources and real estate, it more importantly can turn the drudgery of backup/archiving into enablement of a disaster recovery or business continuity plan that just wasn’t feasible before.

The study looked at what users perceive as top challenges in could deployment for the next two years.  It’s no surprise that the number one concern with public clouds was security.  What did surprise me was that for private clouds the top TWO concerns were security related – Unauthorized access and loss prevention came in respectively as one and two on the private cloud “risk” list.

We wrapped our meeting discussing what cloud users look for when they source a solution.  Since every solution from archiving to application hosting touches the entire enterprise – no matter how or where it’s sourced – real ROI will come from providers who deliver on the big three:  Security, reliability and versatility.

Michael Krieger began his IT career as a mainframe programmer/analyst in the early 1970s.  He has led the development and marketing of data communications, superserver, blade and SaaS products for a variety of tech companies and is currently VP Market Experts with Ziff Davis Enterprise. Michael can be reached at michael.krieger@ziffdavisenterprise.com

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

Meet the Riverbed Summer Interns, Part 1

Posted by riverbedtest on June 27, 2011

Over the next few weeks, we'll be giving some of our blog space to a very select group of young adults.  Every summer Riverbed opens its doors to a group of interns who get the opportunity to see how a corporation like Riverbed works from the inside, while learning how to make their own contributions to our success.  Every week we'll ask them some questions and record a brief video and post the results here in the blog. 

We'll start today with Jennifer Douglass, who is interning in our Public Relations (PR) Department, and Emily Pyne, who is interning in Social Media Marketing.

Jennifer Lynn Douglass

Department at Riverbed:  Public Relations under PR Manager, Jin Woo

SchoolCSU Chico, Graduating Spring 2012

Interests/hobbies:   Writing, dancing, painting, reading, fashion, music, outdoor activities, traveling, art, theater, people, and learning.    



   

Have you interned at Riverbed before?   What did you enjoy/learn?

Last summer I worked with Bryan Flanagan as an Internal Sales Intern.  I highly enjoyed working with Bryan and his sales force team. I learned so much about Riverbed as a company, its products, employees, corporate environment, the ins and outs of corporate sales; and finally, many practical skills that have helped me as a student, a returning intern, and a future employee in the corporate world. Furthermore, I was able to interview Alex Grossman, Director of Marketing Services; and Joe Franklin, Copywriter; to gain a better insight into marketing, which is what I am studying at CSU Chico.

What projects are you working on?

In this first week I have met with and shadowed the PR team under Jin Woo. Thus far I have sat in on many meetings where I have learned an incredible amount about the inner workings of PR. I have been assigned the following tasks for the next few days:

  • Update a co-workers contact sheet
  • Update the Master Media Contact List
  • Upload Press Releases into our internal Portal
  • Add various contacts on our Twitter page
  • Watch a video and list times when various individuals are featured
  • More to come!  

What are you hoping to learn at your time at riverbed this summer?

I am hoping to learn as much as I can about PR, what tools I can use in the future, and further fine tune the path to achieve my goals. So far everyone is helping me with my goals and I hope to be as helpful as I can be as well.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

As far as career goals go, I see myself having a job that will propel me into the right direction to achieve my career goals. I am interested in advertising and passionate about creativity in all its forms; which is why I hope to one day be a Creative Director at an advertising agency or a corporation like Riverbed Technology.  


Emily Pyne

Department:  Social Media Marketing under Bob Gilbert, Director of Marketing

Age:  22

School:  Recent graduate of Gonzaga University ‘11 

Interests/hobbies:  The outdoors, Giants baseball, food, arts and crafts, traveling


 

Have you interned at Riverbed before? 

This is my first summer interning at Riverbed.  I am very excited to be part of the team!   This is the first time I have worked at a large corporation and I know Riverbed will give me great opportunities and experiences to help me build my future career.  I thank Riverbed for reaching out to me and my fellow interns and giving us a chance to gain exposure and practice in the corporate world. 

What projects are you working on? 

I am currently researching strategies to increase our social media following as well as analyzing our current following.  I am also creating a weekly posting for the Riverbed Blog featuring the Riverbed interns.   (Thanks for reading!)   

What are you hoping to learn at your time at Riverbed this summer?

I am hoping to expand my knowledge of social media/digital marketing, as well as traditional marketing and Public relations.  I hope to learn more about Riverbed’s company culture, products, and opportunities. 

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

In five years I hope to be established at a large company in the San Francisco Bay Area or the Pacific Northwest with a job in Marketing or Public relations.  I know working in the Marketing department here at Riverbed will give me very valuable experience to get me where I want to go!       

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Upgrading Performance From Good to Great

Posted by riverbedtest on June 24, 2011

As a sales engineer, clients commonly ask me ‘what else could we do to improve application performance over the WAN?’ I normally respond with something like, “Keeping the network available and using WAN acceleration to make applications faster provides good performance. However, integrated application-layer Quality of Service (QoS) and robust performance visibility provides GREAT performance.”  QoS enables predictable performance over the WAN. Robust performance visibility provides the ability to efficiently solve problems.  If you want a worry-free WAN, in which business applications run well even under the heaviest utilization loads, then today’s blog post is for you.

Earlier this year, RiOS 6.5 was released with a major QoS overhaul.  This included application-layer classification via AppFlow; basic/advanced modes with robust traffic shaping improvements; and workflow improvements to save tons of time. If you want to ensure your precious WAN resources are mapped to strategic priorities, then RiOS 6.5 is your new best friend. With it customers can easily control tricky recreational applications, enterprise port hopping applications like Microsoft Exchange/Outlook’s RPC, and UDP-based Voice/Video.  This is a huge benefit for triple-play networks where balancing the simultaneous demand of voice, video, and data can be daunting. While QoS isn’t sexy, it enables customers to ensure performance when the WAN is most heavily utilized…instead of getting a call complaining about application problems just as they’re sitting down for dinner with the family. 

Blog_osi_modelWhile customers could use router-based QoS, they’ll find deploying WAN Acceleration and QoS in two different devices is less than ideal. Application-layer classification is critical in today’s networks where many applications tunnel over HTTP or port hop (Outlook/Exchange, VoIP, etc). Applying application layer QoS is the biggest challenge for enterprises since the WAN Accelerator obscures OSI Layers 5 – 7 (the application signatures) from the router. If you want application layer classification then moving QoS to the Steelhead is the best option. The Steelhead can see all the application signatures prior to optimization and apply the most appropriate QoS level. If the WAN supports Classes of Service then the Steelhead can also intelligently mark DiffServ bits, so an application’s packets are treated accordingly across the whole network. This enables an application-aware end-to-end QoS  architecture. To learn how to configure the new QoS features in RiOS 6.5 refer to Chapter 3 of the RiOS 6.5 Riverbed Deployment Guide and Chapter 7 of the Steelhead Management Console User Guide.

 
Blog_dashboardWith the acquisitions of Mazu and CACE Technologies Riverbed gained several unique visibility solutions…Cascade Profiler, Pilot, and Shark. The rapid integration of these solutions with Steelheads has delivered a formidable and cost-effective performance analysis toolset that tightly integrates with WAN optimization as a whole. Steelheads have long supported NetFlow export and tcpdump for packet captures. With Steelhead’s adoption of cascade-flow export, organizations can migrate from a basic utilization-focused view with Netflow to cascade-flow’s performance-centric view. This enables streamlined monitoring/troubleshooting for applications, sites, networks and users. The customers I’ve had deploy Cascade absolutely love the service dashboards, Active Directory user tracking integration, and true application-layer visibility. When they first migrate from the port and IP address visibility of NetFlow to the application visibility of Cascade they are amazed at what applications are really on their networks.

Blog_pilotIf they layer on Pilot and Shark they get high-speed packet capture, transaction visualizations, and packet analysis to quickly find the root cause of problems. Riverbed has a long tradition helping customers set new IT speed records, and we’ve just done it again with the addition of Cascade Profiler’s right-click integration with Pilot/Shark. Customers now can drill-down from reports in Cascade Profiler to the transaction and packet visualizations in Pilot all in the same workflow.  If they need to go even deeper they just right-click and open only the packets they desire in Wireshark where they can see the exact bit and bytes. My customers have been particularly impressed with Pilot's ability to efficiently find and analyze VoIP call problems. Finding and analyzing performance problems has never been easier.  To see videos of  Pilot in action go here.

At the end of day, if an organization can’t proactively solve network, application and user performance challenges then they won’t have great performance. When WAN optimization is deployed across an enterprise proper planning and execution to ensure the IT staff has the right visibility into the right data is worth the effort.  With Steelheads at remote sites integrated with Cascade at the datacenter customers now have enterprise-wide visibility to efficiently find and analyze performance challenges.

Don’t settle for good performance, upgrade to great performance today.

Posted in Bandwidth Optimization, Visibility | Leave a Comment »

Three-Part Interview with the Packet Capture Innovators

Posted by riverbedtest on June 22, 2011

Interview-packetcap-innovators Our friends over at the Security Xploded blog have posted an extensive and exclusive interview with Steve McCanne, Gerald Combs, and Loris Degioanni, who created the market for Packet Capture "with their revolutionary creations (libpcap/tcpdump, Wireshark, winpcap)". 

In the introduction, they go on to say, "One cannot imagine [the] nightmare of network administrator without Wireshark, and all those great network applications would not have seen light of the day if there was not libpcap/winpcap. In short these 3 folks simply revolutionized the field of packet capture, in turn bringing new light to computer networking field itself."

Check out the Part One of the three-part interview here.

Posted in People | Leave a Comment »

Microsoft names Riverbed an Application Acceleration Hardware Partner

Posted by riverbedtest on June 20, 2011

Microsoft_logo11 Our friends at Microsoft made it official today, as we announced that they've made us a application application acceleration hardware partner in their Microsoft Technology Centers (MTCs).  The bottom line here is that Microsoft and Riverbed are close partners, and that our products can make a serious difference in the performance of their products.

Riverbed Steelhead appliances can now be seen at your local Microsoft Technology Center. Customers can use Steelhead appliances to run demos, architect solutions or build proofs of concept with Microsoft and Riverbed solution architects. Microsoft customers running applications such as SharePoint and Exchange, or using cloud services can now experience the acceleration of those applications over the WAN before they actually deploy them.  That acceleration can be as much as a 50x improvement.  (That's 50x and not 50%!)

We at Riverbed have felt for some time that WAN optimization is a critical part of any enterprise implementation.  We couldn't be happier that Microsoft agrees with us.

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It’s logical: Five reasons why selecting Riverbed makes sense

Posted by bobegilbert on June 17, 2011

Spock

Today's guest blogger is Josh Tseng, a Technical Director here at Riverbed.

There are a number of WAN optimization vendors out there, each vying for attention.  Though none have been as successful as Riverbed, they all come up with different reasons for selecting their WAN optimization product.  Here are five reasons why choosing Riverbed–the market leader in WAN optimization–makes sense:

1)  Riverbed has more resources focused on WAN optimization than any other product vendor:  As the market leader, Riverbed certainly has more resources than the smattering of small private companies in the WAN optimization market.  However, this is also true when comparing Riverbed to larger vendors including Cisco.  While Cisco certainly is a larger company than Riverbed, the fact remains that WAAS revenues amount to a rounding error in Cisco's financial reports.  While Cisco TAC engineers are knowledgeable about networking-related issues, the fact remains that very few are actually knowledgeable about WAN optimization.  If you ever need to troubleshoot issues such as CIFS op-locks or figure out how to disable default compression the XenApp Presentation server, then very few Cisco TAC engineers will understand what you are asking about.

2)  Riverbed offers application-specific WAN optimization for more applications than any other vendor:  Every environment uses a different set of set of enterprise applications.  And the applications that employees use today may change next year as IT departments upgrade their application software.  The benefit with Riverbed is that we support the broadest range of layer-7 application-specific optimizations of any WAN optimization vendor.  If an application can be optimized for delivery over the WAN at all, chances are that Riverbed can do it, and do it well.

3)  Only Riverbed offers WAN optimization capabilities for all environments–branch office, data center, mobile workers, VDI, private cloud, public cloud, etc.  Some WAN optimization vendors claim to be "data center-centric."  Others have file caching architectures that only work in branch office environments, although their mobile software client is a separate and different product.  Still other vendors claim their offerings to be better for optimizing Citrix ICA traffic.  The fact is that only Riverbed offers WAN optimization technology that delivers best-of-breed performance for all environments.  In contrast, selecting any of these "specialist" WAN optimization products means that you will have to find a different vendor product when new requirements for other environments arise.

4)  Only Riverbed WAN optimization can scale to the largest WAN environments in the world:  The scaling issue is key for enterprises with more than a few remote locations.  One of the common weaknesses of competitor products is their inability to scale.  Competitor products may work well in an isolated lab environment or limited-scale POC, but problems and issues occur when a full deployment is attempted.  Often, the scaling issues can be traced to a per-peer data store problem.

5)  No one ever got fired for buying Riverbed:  Of course, the saying use to be "No one ever got fired for buying Cisco," but we all know that statement is no longer true anymore.  We are aware of more than a few individuals who have been promoted for choosing and deploying Riverbed.  And even if that doesn't happen with your current employer, the Riverbed skills you acquire from deploying and operating Riverbed products will stay with you when you move on to your next employer, should that ever happen.  In fact, we are even aware of individuals who have deployed Steelheads for three or more different employers, gaining career advancement opportunities with each transition.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

Staying secure in the cloud

Posted by riverbedtest on June 16, 2011

Last month I wrote about assessing security risks and tradeoffs and described an alternate approach to measuring security and control in the cloud. This month I’d like to explore one aspect a bit more—encryption.

Cryptex Recently a colleague asked whether encrypting data with AES-256 on our Whitewater cloud storage gateway actually matters to customers hesitant to use the cloud because of security concerns. Does encryption help overcome worries about losing control of the physical infrastructure? If encrypted data is intercepted, does that matter? Are current algorithms good enough? My colleague’s neighbor is a former VP of storage at an ISP. The gentleman insists that it’s meaningless to discuss encryption “security” without having some kind of key management strategy and plan for regular key rotation. Is he perhaps just stoking fear?

Let’s deconstruct this, beginning by separating technology from process.

AES—or, specifically, Rijndael, the algorithm that AES uses—has withstood several years of cryptographic analysis. Since its introduction in 2001, a number of attacks have been postulated. Success has been demonstrated against weakened versions of AES, where the number of cryptographic rounds was intentionally reduced. These attacks fail when attempted against AES with the full set of required rounds.

The strength of an algorithm is orthogonal to an organization’s key management approach. If you operate under the assumption that an attacker has no access to the keys—which is a perfectly acceptable stance—then your choice of algorithm derives from a number of considerations:

  • How long does your data need to remain confidential? (guides selection based on strength)
  • What quantity of data do you need to encrypt? (guides selection based on speed)
  • Are there sufficient products that support the algorithm? (guides selection based on availability)
  • Are there regulatory guidelines that narrow your range of options?

We chose AES-256 because it’s fast, it’s well tested, and it meets Federal standards (probably the same reasons everyone else chooses it, too!). A Whitewater appliance generates a unique key during installation. Whitewater uses this key to encrypt all data as it enters. Data that’s moved to a cloud bucket is thus already encrypted. Furthermore, it even flows over an encrypted channel—we use SSL to authenticate the cloud endpoint and mitigate attempted man-in-the-middle attacks.

Keys At the cloud provider, the (encrypted) data is stored under the context of a customer account. The cloud provider doesn’t have the key, and also has no mechanism to obtain the key. So encryption eliminates the risk of clear-text interception by the provider. Furthermore, the provider’s access control mechanism makes it difficult for other customers to obtain the data. However, should that access control be breached and the data obtained nefariously, the attacker still has no access to the key, so the data is again useless.

The fundamental reason for encrypting a thing is that you have little control over how that thing is distributed or used. Thus, if the thing falls into the hands of an attacker, by encrypting it you’ve rendered it useless. Now, if an attacker somehow obtains access to your key, then even the strongest algorithm in the world can’t protect you. This should be an obvious statement. Poor key management doesn’t alter the strength of an algorithm.

So that covers the technology. What about process? Rotation of authentication keys is common because these keys are easily shared, both accidentally and maliciously. It’s quite uncommon to rotate encryption keys, though. The logistical challenges for this are rather high: you’d have to read every encrypted object, decrypt it, provably delete the object you just read, re-encrypt it with your new key, and then store it. Very time-consuming, as you can imagine. So yes, good key management is important to reduce the likelihood of the key falling into the hands of an attacker. But no, rotation isn’t part of that.

Ciphertext A Whitewater encryption key is tied to a customer and to a particular cloud storage bucket. Whitewater never stores the key in the cloud: so even in the worst case, if a provider experienced some kind of rare breach, an attacker would have access only to encrypted data. Without the key, such data is useless. The key itself is stored only in the appliance. Good key management discipline becomes important here, because if an appliance loses its key, the key can’t be recovered. For example, store two copies of the key at separate physical locations in locked vaults. Regularly check the integrity of the backup key copies. Also, audit each and every time a vault is opened and its key is checked or used. For even greater diversity of protection, consider escrowing the key with an independent third party.

This might seem rather simple, given the complexity of some key management processes. But how would a more detailed process be an improvement? Remember, complexity is the enemy of security. Having too many processes often invites attempts at circumvention, even by the most well minded of folks.

Encryption exists so that you can obtain a measure of confidentiality and privacy when you need to transmit and store information using systems that themselves can’t offer such assurances. So yes, encrypting data is the obvious and correct procedure to follow when using cloud storage. It’s difficult for me to understand why people would question this anymore.

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What makes Riverbed such an awesome company to work for?

Posted by bobegilbert on June 15, 2011

Riverbed seems to be firing on all cylinders.  Leading the red hot WAN optimization market with a 43% market share, winning product award after product award, and most recently Riverbed was named one of the top 3 best places to work in the San Francisco Bay Area.  

It takes more than market performance to make a company a desirable place to work.  What better way to find out what is behind Riverbed's great work environment then to talk directly with a few employees?

Below are the stories of 3 Riverbed employees.  

Perspective from a Riverbed Advanced Support Engineer

  

Perspective from a Riverbed Member of Technical Staff

  

Perspective from a Riverbed Regional Sales Manager

  

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

The Amazon Web Services Cloud Summit 2011

Posted by riverbedtest on June 13, 2011

Banner_aws_summit_2011
On Friday, I was one of the Riverbed folks who got to attend the Amazon Web Services Summit 2011 at the 220px-I_Love_New_York.svg New York Hilton in midtown Manhattan. Originally, this event was scheduled to be held at the much smaller Roosevelt Hotel, but when registration outstripped that venue's capacity Amazon moved it to the larger New York Hilton. 

I didn't get an exact count of attendees, but the main presentation room had nearly 1000 chairs set up, and during the middle of the day, the space was pretty much full. 

And the Riverbed booth, one of only a couple of dozen in the Vendor Expo, was very busy.  (Yes, our candy jar helped, but there were a tremendous number of good intelligent conversations…) We had a lot of questions about our Whitewater Cloud Storage Accelerator, and about Cloud Steelhead.  We also had a number of questions from people who were not familiar with what we do at all, and seemed pretty impressed.

There seemed to be general agreement that the cloud has already become incredibly important and useful (though, to be fair, the crowd was self-selecting for that point of view…), but that it can be very slow, especially when sending large files over long distances. 

It really does seem that as much as enterprises need the cloud, the cloud needs Riverbed.

If this event wasn't geographically convenient for you, there are currently two more AWS Cloud Summits scheduled, one for tomorrow in London, and another the following Tuesday in San Francisco.  You can see the agendas here.  (They may be sold out; there will be additional events later.)

Posted in Application Acceleration, Storage Cloud | Leave a Comment »