Riverbed SteelHead 8.6 optimizes WANs for Azure and hybrid clouds

Cloud-based applications impose different types of stress on wide area networks that do traditional applications. Riverbed believes that SteelHead 8.6 can optimize network traffic to better meet business requirements.

Umesh Kukreja, Director of Product Marketing at Riverbed Technology, reached out to discuss how his company has expanded capabilities for its SteelHead WAN Optimization solution to accelerate Microsoft Azure cloud and an enterprise-scale virtual appliance. The appliance is designed to optimize WAN traffic to deliver up to 1Gbps for private and hybrid cloud applications.  

What Riverbed has to day about SteelHead 8.6

What’s New in SteelHead 8.6

Now available for Microsoft Azure: SteelHead CX cloud instances are now available as a subscription-based offering in Microsoft Azure, making SteelHead available for 90% of public cloud deployments. SteelHead enables enterprises to host their applications with the cloud vendor that best meets their business requirements.

Enterprise-scale SteelHead for virtual environments and private/hybrid clouds: When virtualized infrastructure is required, IT can avoid multiple SteelHead virtual devices and simplify their network architecture with SteelHead CX 7055V, a new virtual appliance that can optimize up to 1Gbps of traffic. The SteelHead CX 7055v simplifies deployment in private cloud architectures and enterprise-scale virtualized datacenters with a single virtualized 1G appliance deployed on a standard server.

App Engine upgrade for greater control over all network traffic: SteelHead users can now set policies and classes for over 1,100 applications. As a result, SteelHead now enables more granular control over all network traffic, automatically reserving bandwidth for business-critical apps and steering them on to low-latency, uncongested links. This allows IT to align application delivery more directly with business needs.

A higher-performance mid-range application acceleration platform: For mid-range enterprise deployments, the new CX570 and CX770 deliver higher performance and better diagnostics and are simple to upgrade at the same price as their predecessors, CX555 and CX755.

WAN optimization for hybrid cloud computing environments

Each application in a cloud computing environment imposes a different set of requirements on the available network bandwidth. Some create highly "bursty" traffic, that is many small data read or write requests. Others write out quite a few long data updates. Some are very read-oriented and do very little writing of data. Some reverse that, reading very little data and writing out quite a few data updates.

The goal of optimizing the WAN usage requires that WAN optimization tools understand, on an application-by-application basis, how applications work and what resources they require, so that the limited network bandwidth can support everything gracefully.

Kukreja pointed out that a different mix of TCP optimization, compression, and deduplication are needed for each application. Riverbank had done the work to learn how 1,100 different common applications and workloads stress the network. SteelHead 8.6 includes optimization profiles for all of them.

Snapshot analysis

The conversation with Kukreja was fast paced and chock full of useful and interesting information for a reformed network engineer like me. It appears that Riverbed has taken the time to consider the needs of cloud-based workloads and has developed tools that can help enterprises make the best use of their costly networking products.

As companies begin to enhance their network infrastructure to support 1 Gbps, 10 Gbps, and even up to 40 Gbps, making best use of their expensive network switches and network links becomes ever more important.