Riverbed Ups the WAFS Ante

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Riverbed Technology hopes to make further inroads into the market for WAN optimization and wide area file services (WAFS) with the release of the second generation of its Steelhead product.

Riverbed claims that Steelhead 2.0 “offers distributed enterprises the most complete and best-performing Wide-area Data Services (WDS) solution available today.” The new release offers improved high availability, performance, scalability, network integration, security and management, and also adds application-level support for Microsoft SQL.

Optimizing data performance across wide-area networks (WANs) has become one of the hottest trends in IT, with Cisco, Juniper and Brocade among the recent movers in the space. Riverbed has benefited from the trend, boasting strong growth and a partnership with HP.

Riverbed has landed 200 customers and deployed more than 1,500 appliances in less than 14 months of shipping product, said Eric Wolford, Riverbed’s senior vice president of marketing and business development.

“The fact that Riverbed has acquired more than 200 customers in this short a period of time should tell everyone that this technology is for real,” said Steve Duplessie, founder and senior analyst at the Enterprise Strategy Group. “You really can eliminate most of your remote IT problems today, but nobody believes it yet. It’s time to wake up.”

Riverbed says Steelhead 2.0 gives geographically dispersed enterprises LAN-like performance over the WAN, without worrying about WAN failures. Steelhead appliances address issues such as poor application performance, insufficient bandwidth into remote sites, difficulties in site consolidation, and challenges with remote data backup and replication.

One customer, Stanley Consultants, used Steelhead to build a server-less remote office model, including removing Microsoft Exchange servers at all remote sites.

“Since deploying Steelhead at two of our sites, performance for file sharing is 80 times faster across the WAN,” stated Kevin Madsen, network analyst at Stanley Consultants. “At one site we’ve seen performance gains of approximately 60 percent for Exchange 2003, even in cache mode. Our members in remote offices can now efficiently transfer files within the office without experiencing performance delays caused by transferring files from the remote office to headquarters and back again. We’ve also seen phenomenal increases in MS SQL performance.”

Version 2.0 offers enhancements such as Microsoft SQL acceleration; a proxy file service that continues to serve files in the event of a WAN outage; high-speed TCP acceleration; IPSEC encryption between appliances; improved failover; optional 4-to-12 port GigE NIC cards; TCP connection forwarding; improved Exchange 2003 and CIFS performance; and improved management capabilities.

Steelhead 2.0 will be generally available on July 28, with pricing starting at $7,500.

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Paul Shread
Paul Shread
eSecurity Editor Paul Shread has covered nearly every aspect of enterprise technology in his 20+ years in IT journalism, including an award-winning series on software-defined data centers. He wrote a column on small business technology for Time.com, and covered financial markets for 10 years, from the dot-com boom and bust to the 2007-2009 financial crisis. He holds a market analyst certification.
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