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Steelhead 8.6 optimizes investment in virtualization

Umesh Kukreja, Riverbed's Director of Product Marketing, discusses what network virtualization techniques and tools are needed in today's environment.
Written by Dan Kusnetzky, Contributor

Riverbed's Director of Product Marketing, Umesh Kukreja, came by a while ago to discuss the launch of SteelHead 8.6 and trends in network virtualization and optimization. Although the conversation was very interesting, my notes got buried on my desk. It took Tigger, the feline owner of my office, to walk across my keyboard and knock some papers onto the floor for those notes to see the light of day once again.

The challenge

Web and cloud-based applications create some challenges for organizations. If everyone is accessing the same applications, it is likely that the same application and data requests are being made throughout the organization. This means that the same data is constantly being requested and then delivered through the organization's network. Kukreja suggested that network virtualization and optimization technology could help.

A solution

He suggested that each workload is likely to require a different mix of TCP optimization, deduplication, protocol level optimization and path selection.

  • The TCP protocol can be optimized to minimize the number of packets sent over the network to ensure safe delivery of the data.
  • Repetitive data can be sent more effectively by sending one copy and telling the network virtualization layer to reproduce that data at the other end to make the best use of the available network bandwidth.
  • The network virtualization layer can also choose to use a protocol that is tuned to the type of data being sent rather than simply using a default.
  • Network virtualization that is aware of the network topology could select optimal paths for data coming out of a given system and the data returning from the network.

Kukreja then pointed out that Riverbed's SteelHead appliances include all of these optimizations and a few more. SteelHead recognizes over a thousand applications, such as Microsoft's Office 365, Azure, SharePoint and OneDrive, and applies the appropriate network virtualization tools to optimize network utilization.


Organizations are always looking for ways to optimize their current investment in technology. This means finding ways for that investment to do more, to do its traditional job better and always to minimize costs and complexity. Tools, such as Riverbed's SteelHead, can certainly help organizations make the best use of today's network infrastructure and also help them make the transition to newer technology.

Riverbed appears to have been thinking far ahead to make sure that its technology will help today's, and smooth the path to tomorrow's, network infrastructure. Of course, Riverbed's competitors have been doing the same thing.

Will Riverbed be able to win in this dynamic market? The technology appears quite capable.

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