riverbed_logo_think_fast3I met with Alan Saldich, the VP of Product Marketing and Alliances and Kim Kapustka, the Senior Director of Corporate Marketing at Interop to discuss Riverbed's role and capabilities for the WAN. Founded in 2002 and with shipping product since 2004, the company has accumulated 4000 customers, 750 employees, global operations and a revenue run-rate of $300 million.

Alan explained that customers typically deploy the disk-based, software-driven architecture in branch and regional offices and deploys the Steelhead mobile client software for their laptops. The Steelhead platform is a WAN Data Services appliance architected to perform three storage, applications and WAN services that deliver screaming performance for remote users and branch offices:

  • the bytes comprosing WAN TCP/IP traffic are saved to disk to be reused by other users or traffic requests in the event that users ask for similar files or data (very high likelihood in enterprise settings such as branch offices), so it can deliver that traffic more quickly by avoiding the retransmission of bytes across the WAN.
  • TCP proxy architecture so Steelhead appliances can implement various TCP optimizations strategies (spoofing, window sizing optimization etc) to improve the throughput of TCP-based applications.
  • Application level optimization service that reduces WAN round trips generated by applications so that typical enterprise applications – Windows file sharing, NFS, Exchange, SAP, Oracle – are delivered to end users more quickly.

In combination, these capabilities can greatly improve users' experience.

The link to being green is that 'you buy less stuff.' Enterprises usually deploy regional data centers to get the data and applications closer to the users. With acceleration appliances the data center buildout can be reduced, postponed or eliminated. Even branch office equipment can be re-centralized back to regional or central data centers where IT managers can achieve far higher utilization rates and exploit virtualization services to consolidate servers both logically and physically reducing cost and power demands. IT managers can set a new balance between a highly responsive user experience and highly utilized virtualized servers. 

Interestingly, the performance of applications with WDS appliances in place actually improves over time. Pricing for appliances vary based on size from $3,500 – $120,000 per unit.

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