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Archive for the ‘Site Consolidation’ Category

The importance of agility

Posted by riverbedtest on November 3, 2011

 An underappreciated aspect of the Steelhead product line is that it has a diverse set of form factors and – crucially – those different packages all use the same optimization architecture, and thus interoperate. What does that mean for a customer?  It gives tremendous flexibility to adapt to changes in how data and users are distributed, without needing to cause ripple effects elsewhere in the infrastructure.  Let’s consider a simple (and common) example first before we move on to looking at the larger implications. 

Organizations often have some branch offices that are very small.  For the very smallest offices and individual users, it’s usually not hard to decide that the right solution is to use Steelhead Mobile on a laptop or workstation.  And when you get to  10-12 people in an office, both the technology and the ROI arguments for a Steelhead appliance (physical or virtual) are pretty easy to make.  But there’s an area in the middle, around 5-6 users, where there’s enough overlap of capabilities that either approach could work.  Add to this that a given office may grow or shrink enough so that the original configuration in the office may need to be replaced with a different one.

 Using the Steelhead family, these choices and changes at the branch can be accommodated with no additional impact on the data center side.  For a given workload from a given set of users, it just doesn’t matter whether they’re coming from a Steelhead appliance or Steelhead Mobile. 

 Now, if you’re only familiar with Riverbed, at this point your reaction is probably something like “so what?  Big deal!”  But let’s look at just this one scenario with the #2 vendor: their mobile client doesn’t use the same technology as their appliance, so you have to have two separate data-center infrastructures to support the branches if you have a mixture of the technologies.  And as you migrate a given branch from appliance to mobile or vice-versa, you’re changing the load on the corresponding data-center pieces. 

 That divided-technology approach means that it’s easy with the #2 vendor to be in a situation where an apparently-straightforward change at a branch gets tripped up because it exceeds the capacity of some piece of data center infrastructure.  Another layer of complexity comes from the fact that these two different technologies have different network characteristics: their appliance uses an autodiscovery mechanism somewhat like the way that Steelheads work, while their mobile client needs an explicit connection set up to its data-center counterpart.  Their appliance marketing repeatedly insists on the necessity of transparency and the avoidance of tunnels, while the mobile client uses a tunnel-based system – so it’s possible that a particular branch network configuration that works with one of the technologies simply won’t work with the other.

 It’s tempting to say that the divided-technology problem of the #2 vendor is just a typical lapse by a very large company, and that smaller competitors would have a better approach. So we look at the #3 vendor in our space, which is a private company that prides itself on only doing WAN optimization.  But they don’t have any mobile client at all!  So their theory is that you should just pretend that you don’t need WAN optimization when you’re out on the road and dealing with networks in coffee shops and hotels – exactly the opposite of most real-world experience.  And apparently when your branch is too small to support an appliance or virtual appliance, you should just stop using WAN optimization.  (All of a sudden, the #2 vendor looks really good by comparison.)

Before we leave this topic, it’s worth noting that the preceding comparison actually understates the Riverbed advantage. A further advantage comes from the fact that Steelhead Mobile and a Steelhead appliance (physical or virtual) can cooperate via branch warming. In branch warming, Steelhead Mobile and a local Steelhead appliance work together: each time a piece of "optimization vocabulary" is used by the machine running Steelhead Mobile, the mobile client and the appliance coordinate so that both have a copy.  As the mobile client is used in the branch office, their vocabularies will tend to converge.

Without spending too much time on the details of how it works, let’s talk about where it’s useful:  Sometimes there are enough people in an office to justify an appliance, but the nature of the work means that some or all of them have a significant need for mobility – often because they are salespeople, hands-on repair technicians, or field supervisors.  They can use Steelhead Mobile when they are on the road, but they stop needing a mobile license when they’re in the office, and they take the benefits of their office work (newly learned optimizations) back on the road with them when they leave. 

 Now let’s talk about the bigger picture of why this matters.  After all, your organization may not have small branches or mobile users, so that set of examples might not impress you. But the same general principle of agility through a common architecture is more broadly useful, and almost certainly can make a difference to your organization now or in a future configuration.

 A way of getting a handle on this is to list out the different “packages” of Steelhead technology:

  • Physical appliance
  • Virtual appliance
  • Cluster of appliances (physical and/or virtual)
  • Software client
  • Cloud-integrated service
  • “Blade” for HP switch

 All of these interoperate with each other – so it’s easy to go “physical to virtual” or vice-versa without needing to disrupt the other side of the application.  Likewise it’s easy to have a set of services growing beyond the capacity of a single appliance, or migrating into (or out of) a cloud service, without prompting a redesign or redeployment of the client side.

 Again, a comparison with the #2 vendor is illuminating. A casual examination of their WAN optimization product line would suggest a similar kind of breadth and agility. They have a variety of packages of WAN optimization technology. But it turns out that the commonality is more marketecture than architecture.  That is, they use a common branding for what are actually 3 very-different classes of products: what we might call “main”, “mobile”, and “express.”  The “mobile” products can’t interoperate at all with “main” products or with “express” products.  The “main” products and “express” products can interoperate, but only at the lower level of function supported by the “express” products.  So actually trying to use the #2 vendor products for Riverbed-like agility can lead to all sorts of unpleasant surprises, as WAN optimization functionality either doesn’t work at all (mobile/main and mobile/express combinations) or works with sharply reduced functionality and performance (main/express combinations).

IT organizations need agility and flexibility to meet changing circumstances and demands.  The Riverbed single common architecture approach for WAN optimization helps ensure that Steelhead technology can help meet that need.

Posted in Application Acceleration, Bandwidth Optimization, Hybrid Cloud, Mobile, Private Cloud, Public Cloud, Site Consolidation | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Riverbed 101 – An introduction video to Riverbed’s products

Posted by bobegilbert on October 19, 2011

Bob Gilbert gives a high level overview of Riverbed's products.



Posted in Application Acceleration, Bandwidth Optimization, Data Protection, Disaster Recovery, Hybrid Cloud, Mobile, Packet Capture, Private Cloud, Public Cloud, Site Consolidation, Visibility, Web Content Optimization | Leave a Comment »

The same, but different

Posted by riverbedtest on September 16, 2011

F. Scott Fitzgerald once said, "The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposing ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function."   With all of the challenges and the increasing pace of decisions that need to be made in corporate IT these days, I suspect there are a lot of geniuses running enterprise networks!

Many of our customers tell me they have a similar dilemma — "I have a lot of branch offices and sites, each with their own personality, requirements and expectations, yet I achieve a lot of benefit in IT by keeping things the same as much as possible, in terms of reducing complexity and costs."    For example, some sites may need an enterprise class firewall or a print server, while other more remote sites are not directly connected to the Internet or need fewer services.  Virtualization offers benefits here — by increasing the flexibility by which software and services can be deployed, branch offices can be deployed as a uniform framework across many sites, while enabling administrators to clearly define where customization can and cannot be deployed.

Riverbed has been shipping a technology called RSP, the Riverbed Services Platform, for quite some time now — I love to bring this up this solution with customers who are facing this problem of managing multiple heterogeneous sites.   One of Riverbed's strengths is that our technology can optimize almost anything that travels across a customer's WAN, so by standardizing on Riverbed Steelheads for their WAN performance needs, they keep costs and complexity low.

Now, enter RSP:  by adding additional services running virtually on Steelheads deployed at the branches, each site can be changed to suit the individual needs of that site, while still maintaining a consistent virtualized platform across the enterprise.   I like to think of RSP as the Swiss Army knife of the branch.  We have customers running everything from Windows Server 2008R2, to Linux, to one of our numerous technology partners on RSP, all to satisfy the specific requirements of each site.  Some examples are:

  • DNS, DHCP, Print, and other services on Windows Server.  This is a common use case that allows you to run lightweight services at the branch virtually, without additional hardware.  You can even add additional storage to the Windows VM with iSCSI, or enable Branch Cache on the VM to add one-way file caching.
  • Steelhead Mobile Controller Virtual Edition (SMC-VE) Sites that have mobile users that need acceleration can benefit by consolidating and simplifying deployment, management and reporting functions.
  • Cascade Sensor VE.   Often, Steelhead appliances sit near the branch gateway and have a bird's eye view of traffic entering and exiting the branch.  By adding a Cascade Sensor VE, this information can be visualized, analyzed and reported.
  • Firewalls and Security Technologies:  including McAfee Firewall Enterprise Virtual Edition and Check Point Secure Gateway.
  • Branch Office Routing:  by using Vyatta on RSP, you can easily turn your Steelhead into an OSPF or IS-IS router, for example, for sites that need more sophisticated routing needs.

All in all, you can run up to 5 virtual machine instances on each RSP platform, and manage all of them under one interface using the Riverbed Central Management Console (CMC).  This is an easy way by which you can make your branch offices the same, but different enough to fulfill the diverse requirements of the distributed enterprise.

Posted in Customers, Site Consolidation, Virtualization | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

The WAN of Your Dreams

Posted by riverbedtest on September 6, 2011

PerfectWAN Look, I know it isn't easy. Nobody likes to put themselves out there, face the fear of the unknown. Why rock the boat, right? You're probably thinking to yourself, "I'm happy with my WAN. It's a decent, hard-working WAN. Sure, there are problems, but no WAN is perfect." Now tell me something, don't you think you deserve better? Don't you deserve a WAN that makes you truly happy?

Imagine a WAN that goes above and beyond for you. A WAN that doesn't make you wait an interminable 30 seconds every time you transfer a file. A WAN that doesn't hinder your consolidation efforts with it's insufferable latency. A WAN that gives you superior application performance without dictating where your servers are?  This isn't too much to ask. 

The Riverbed Optimization System (RiOS)

The Riverbed Optimization System (RiOS) is the only solution within the WAN optimization industry to  utilize four different technologies to create your perfect WAN. RiOS software powers Steelhead products through a combination of patent-pending data reduction, TCP optimization, and application-level protocol optimizations. Together, these technologies provide a comprehensive solution for true WAN compatibility. (Streamlining descriptions excerpted from the Riverbed Steelhead Product Family data sheet).


1. Data Streamlining

Data streamlining – RiOS data streamlining works across all TCP applications to reduce bandwidth   utilization, typically by 60% to 95%. Data streamlining works across file sharing, email, CAD, ERP, web-based HTTP and HTTPS applications, databases, virtual desktops, and all other applications that use TCP.


2. Transport Streamlining

Transport streamlining – RiOS transport streamlining reduces the number of TCP packets required to transfer data by 65% to 98%. Transport streamlining also enables the acceleration of SSL-encrypted traffic throughout the enterprise to eliminate the security and performance trade-off.


3. Application Streamlining

Application streamlining – RiOS application streamlining offers the broadest support of application-specific modules for key enterprise applications to provide additional application performance improvements on top of the data streamlining and transport streamlining optimizations performed on all TCP traffic.


4. Management Streamlining

Management streamlining – RiOS enables easy deployment through auto-discovery of peers and auto-interception of traffic, with no reconfiguration of clients, servers, or routers. Simple integration into the network has led to Riverbed deployments in a vast array of network environments and topologies including, but not limited to, MPLS, VoIP, video conferencing, QoS, VPN, satellite infrastructure, ATM, frame relay, microwave, and wireless. 

Riverbed is committed to helping you find the WAN of your dreams, and with over 10,000 customers, we are confident that we can.  So begin your Riverbed experience register today for a free trial. After all, over 80 of the Fortune 100 can't be wrong. Hurry, your perfect WAN is waiting!

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

Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness – Happy Birthday United States of America

Posted by riverbedtest on July 4, 2011

The 4th of July, The Glorious Fourth,  Independence Day or the birthday of the United States of America  are all names that are used to recognize the day the declaration of Independence was adopted by the Continental Congress. This day marked the legal separation of the 13 colonies from Great Britain and opened new opportunities for the people of the United States to have certain unalienable rights.

 Second sentence from the Declaration of Independence states “ We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that amongst these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

 Much like the 13 colonies that declared their independence in July 4, 1776, knowledge workers should also have unalienable rights including the liberty to access data anywhere, any time without having to deal with bandwidth and latency issues which we would all agree, if not addressed, would dampen our pursuit of happiness!

 So in tribute to the 4th let me suggest 4 ways to gain independence and performance happiness.

 1.       Know your applications and make sure to choose a WAN optimization vendor that can give you application specific acceleration.  Riverbed prides ourselves in supporting the broadest range of layer-7 application-specific optimizations of any WAN optimization vendor.  Chances are that we can improve the performance of the applications you are running

2.       Make sure that your choice supports all environments – data center, branch office, mobile workers, VDI, private cloud, public cloud, etc.  Riverbed offers WAN optimization technology that delivers best-of-breed performance for all environments eliminating the need to have different vendor interfaces, integration, and performance standards.

3.       Know where your performance issues are and have the right tools to quickly drill down to the root cause.  Riverbed’s application-aware Network Performance Management (NPM) integrated architecture gives customers robust real-time network and application performance analytics, resulting in complete top-down visibility into their network and applications. Cascade is the only NPM solution on the market that fully consolidates real-time business-level performance views with packet-level analysis all in a single data set that users can seamlessly navigate in order to quickly and accurately diagnose and troubleshoot network and application performance problems.

4.       Chose a vendor that has industry leading support. In April of this year Riverbed was recognized and certified by J.D. Power and Associates and TSIA for excellence in Global Customer Service and Support. These certifications acknowledge excellence in delivering outstanding service and support on a worldwide basis to Riverbed customers. Riverbed is one of a select few companies to receive this distinction for global certification under both the J.D. Power and Associates CTSS and the TSIA Excellence in Service Operations program in the same year.

 Typical 4th of July tradition is to celebrate by hosting a barbeque, watching fireworks or by decorating in the colors of the American flag – red, white, and blue. For our Riverbed customer’s we encourage you to celebrate your performance independence by celebrating in the spirit of the 4th.

 So whether you enjoy a nice steak and Steelhead, have some Cascade and cocktails, or decide to parade the streets decorated in Riverbed orange, we wish you a very happy Independence day!

Posted in Application Acceleration, Bandwidth Optimization, Corporate, Disaster Recovery, Fun, Site Consolidation, Storage Cloud, Virtualization, Visibility | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Don’t Make Important Choices in a Vacuum!

Posted by riverbedtest on February 4, 2011

ImagesCAWQ8OPZ Let's face it, choosing a WAN optimization product from the various vendor offerings can be confusing and difficult, because all of the vendors seem to say the same things about their products.  They all make similar-sounding claims about fast LAN-like performance, server consolidation, cost savings, etc.  And if what they all were saying were true, then it would be rather a simple matter to just choose a vendor based on lowest price, since supposedly every vendor's product pretty much does the same thing.

And while that is precisely what many vendors would have you believe, the truth is that there are very significant differences among the various vendor offerings in the WAN optimization market.  Tragically, numerous customers have found that out the hard way, making the mistake of purchasing a WAN optimization product that didn't work or scale for their network.

A lab test or live proof-of-concept (POC) may help. A test or POC allows customers to get familiar with the look and feel of each product they are evaluating.  But there are limitations to what a lab test or POC can reveal about a product.  Just about every WAN optimization product will work fine in a protected, limited-scale deployment where they are not fully-exposed to WAN disruptions, heavy data center traffic loads, and other nasty things that inevitably happen in a live production network.  It's a huge mistake to assume that just because a particular vendor product works adequately when deployed to 2 or 3 sites in a POC, that it will also work fine when deployed to 20 or 30 sites.

When considering a large enterprise-scale deployment of WAN optimization devices, the most important step in the evaluation process is talking to another customer with a similar-sized network who has also deployed products from the vendor under consideration.  There simply is no substitute for that.

Checking references involves more than listening to vague anecdotal accounts of "success" by the vendor's sales rep.  Rather, it's very important to obtain the contact info of another customer who has deployed and used the vendor's WAN optimization products, and to have a confidential one-on-one conversation with that other customer.  When talking with that customer, ask about specifics such as the number and types of applications being optimized by the deployed products, number of users and locations in the customer's network,  and overall experience from using that vendor's products.  Make sure that the customer has a similarly complex network as your own, uses the same type of applications, and has deployed a similar number of devices that you anticipate deploying in your own network.

At Riverbed we expect and welcome any such requests for references.  With an installed base of over 12,000 customers, we have numerous Riverbed customers who would be happy to relay their experiences to you.  Unfortunately, that is not true for all vendors in this space.

Posted in Corporate, People, Site Consolidation | 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 »

Autodesk University 2010

Posted by riverbedtest on December 1, 2010

Au2008_logo We're coming to you today from The Mandalay Bay Hotel Convention Center in Las Vegas, where we are attending Autodesk University 2010.  More precisely, we're working the booth on the Expo floor.  You can find us in booth #1622.  The expo started last night at 6pm when the doors were opened and the place filled with conference attendees.  This is an extremely well-attended conference with attendees from all over the world.

Riverbed WAN Optimization had been mentioned by name in a couple of the breakout sessions earlier in the day yesterday, and so we had a bunch of people stop by the booth who were not otherwise familiar with WAN Optimization.  Many of the questions we heard had to do with Autodesk's Revit Revit Logo Building Information Management software, and whether or not Steelhead appliances could speed up Revit activity across the WAN.  The answer is that we most definitely can.  We have documented results that show a 44x improvement in application performance and a 4-5x reduction in bandwidth.

The result is that you don't need local Revit servers in your branch offices to enable collaboration if you have Riverbed optimizing your WAN.  If you already do have branch office Revit servers, then you'll see a dramatic improvement in sync performance between the data center and the branch office's server.

Collaboration Systems Group Logo Our friends and partners at Collaboration Systems Group, in booth #1623 (right behind our booth) are demonstrating the combination of Riverbed Steelhead appliances and Revit in their booth, and drawing quite a crowd.

If you're in town for Autodesk University, please make a point of stopping by the booth and saying hi.  We'd love to see you.

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

Riverbed and SAP

Posted by riverbedtest on November 18, 2010

Eric Wolford, SVP Marketing and Business Development for Riverbed, discusses enterprise resource planning (ERP) applications and SAP, the ERP application market leader.

See the video.

Eric then explains Riverbed's partnership with SAP, where we now supports SAP-specific technology.  This technology is developed on the Riverbed Services Platform (RSP) which offers a hosted SAP instance on the Riverbed appliance while optimizing its performance.  This gives the end-user the perception the application is still local because application performance makes it feel like the application is on the LAN rather than across the WAN.  This capability enables enterprises to consolidate SAP servers to reduce costs but not the performance, while return of Investment (ROI) is typically recognized in under a year.

Posted in Application Acceleration, Corporate, Site Consolidation | Leave a Comment »

Riverbed Think Fast Demo: McAfee on RSP

Posted by bobegilbert on August 3, 2010

Posted in Site Consolidation, Virtualization | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »