Riverbed upgrades Steelhead RiOS software, adds new appliance

Raj Mallempati
VP, Product Marketing

Today, Riverbed Technology is announcing two upgrades to its Steelhead WAN optimization product line.  The new RiOS software which powers the Steelheads adds a Path Selection feature to simplify complex hybrid networks, enhances end-to-end application visibility and improves the performance of key business-critical applications. The new Steelhead, the CX 255, is a high-performance model for the lower end of the family.


“The past 24 months, we have been talking to a lot of Steelhead customers, and we found many were seeing three key trends,” said Raj Mallempati, VP, Product Marketing for Steelhead. “They are adapting cloud IP services rapidly, they are increasingly adopting non-Windows based applications in addition to their Windows ones — especially SaaS based apps like Salesforce — and they are seeing an increased need to re-architect their branch office networks, so they are looking at a hybrid network model.”


Mallempati said Riverbed responded by emphasizing three key strategies for the 8.5 software release.


“First we are delivering ‘Acceleration Everywhere’ for end users – meaning acceleration across multiple applications and branch offices. Second, we are enhancing IP control. And third, we are providing administrators with increased visibility.”


To enhance IP control, RiOS 8.5 introduces Path Selection.


“Path Selection provides admins with the ability to classify applications and map these classes to the type of band connection,” Mallempati said. “It provides the right path, the ability to monitor it, and provides a quick alternative if the path is down.”


Mallempati said that where Path Selection is particularly valuable is in the management of complex hybrid networks. Path Selection combined with application identification via deep packet inspection (DPI) enables IT and business units to understand usage and performance down to the specific application type.


The increased visibility comes from the integration of Cascade Profiler 10.0.7 with RiOS 8.5. It extends application-aware network performance management capabilities by integrating DPI capabilities within CascadeFlow data from Steelhead WAN optimization solution deployments. The detailed application level profiles give decision makers deep application and network visibility to identify and characterize traffic flows across the network and among branch offices, to allow organizations to quickly identify, prioritize, fine tune QoS parameters and route business-critical applications and non-essential web traffic.


“It means you now have complete end-to-end application awareness,” Mallempati said.


He also said that Acceleration Everywhere really has two elements. One is in the new software, which introduces new optimizations for business-critical Microsoft applications and environments, including SharePoint 2013, Exchange 2013, Office365 and file sharing applications that use the server message block 3 (SMB3) protocol in Windows 8 and Server 2012 environments.


“For instance, for SharePoint you now have enhanced performance with the application layer, which lets customers centralize and consolidate SharePoint files across branch offices.”  Mallempati said.


The software also adds storage intelligent optimization for NetApp SnapMirror, which provides detailed insights into each storage volume, allowing prioritization of replication for the most important data sets while avoiding taxing resources on processing data that will see little benefit.


“With SnapMirror, we are extending what we did in the past,” Mallempati said. “It allows much more efficient ability to prioritize and deliver data replication, which means delivery of higher quality of service.”


Mallempati said that the other element of Accleration Everywhere in the announcement is the new appliance, the CX 255.


“Here, Acceleration Everywhere means that small branch offices with today’s increased performance needs get Steelhead appliances that work for them,” he said.  “The new CX 255 provides three times the throughput of previous product for this space. This expands our reach within enterprises, and will help us go after the retail segment.”


RiOS 8.5, Cascade Profiler 10.0.7 and the Steelhead CX series 255 appliances are expected to be generally available in Q3 2013.

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