Riverbed Granite Speeds Up WAN Storage

By Frank Ohlhorst  |  Posted 2012-02-03 Print this article Print

Granite, the latest acceleration technology from Riverbed Technology, is designed to speed up storage across the WAN and drive the consolidation of data centers.

Well-known for its application acceleration products, Riverbed Technology delves into the next logical phase of speeding up traffic across WANs with its new accelerator technology, called Granite. Simply put, Riverbed's Granite does for WAN storage, what Riverbed's Steelhead does for application over the WAN€”acceleration.

Riverbed Granite's primary purpose is to improve storage performance across the WAN. It accomplishes that by carrying out block data transfers across WANs without the many back-and-forth exchanges that make such movements time-consuming now. Granite can essentially achieve the same thing with blocks of data that Riverbed's Steelhead appliance does with applications, slashing wait times at branches, which can also provide the foundation for enterprises to centralize their storage.

Eric Wolford, executive vice president and general manager of the company's products group told eWEEK: "Granite's ability to accelerate storage is only part of the story. Granite will also improve virtual desktop performance over long distances, making VDI [virtual desktop infrastructure] possible for many more remote users."

The technology should prove to be very important to enterprises as a way to consolidate data centers, improve branch-office and remote-user experiences and ultimately reduce costs by better using bandwidth and reducing the number of data centers needed by an enterprise.

What's more, enterprises should realize additional savings in the form of reduced management costs, better leveraging of virtualization technologies and a cumulative reduction in power usage from a reduced hardware footprint.

"Granite will help to project data center storage to the edge of the network, so that the edge thinks that the disk is actually local," said Wolford. "Performance gains are provided by changing how a server typically gets data from a storage array. Granite, using its awareness of the file system, allows the remote server to retrieve all the required blocks of data in one round-trip transaction, instead of making the server work with storage blocks to requests the bits from each block in sequence. Over a WAN, that process can take a long time because messages and data need to travel over a long distance."

Granite's ability to remove the €œchattiness€ of storage transactions helps to reduce the realized latency of moving data from storage across a WAN to a server. That allows enterprises to take full advantage of the speed available on their current WAN links.

Riverbed recently demonstrated Granite's effectiveness at a Feb. 1 press event in San Francisco by showing 200MB of files being copied to a remote server from a data center in a few seconds, and booting up a remote system from a Windows 2008 OS stored in the data center in about 40 seconds. Although not a definitive test, the demonstration did show that storage performance was increased multifold by the technology.

Granite can be used for centralizing resources in three key cases that Riverbed's other products were unable to address: custom applications, write-intensive applications, and the need to keep working at the remote site if disconnected from the data center, Wolford said.

When the technology ships in the end of March, Granite will initially use iSCSI for block storage transfers across the WAN, but the company plans later to add Fibre Channel capability. It can bring that data to servers using Microsoft New Technology File System (NTFS), with Linux Extended File System (EXT) coming later. Enterprises will be able to get started with Granite for less than $12,000, according to Senior Product Marketing Manager Miles Kelly.


Frank Ohlhorst Frank J. Ohlhorst is the Executive Technology Editor for eWeek Channel Insider and brings with him over 20 years of experience in the Information Technology field.He began his career as a network administrator and applications program in the private sector for two years before joining a computer consulting firm as a programmer analyst. In 1988 Frank founded a computer consulting company, which specialized in network design, implementation, and support, along with custom accounting applications developed in a variety of programming languages.In 1991, Frank took a position with the United States Department of Energy as a Network Manager for multiple DOE Area Offices with locations at Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL), Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPL), Argonne National Laboratory (ANL), FermiLAB and the Ames Area Office (AMESAO). Frank's duties included managing the site networks, associated staff and the inter-network links between the area offices. He also served at the Computer Security Officer (CSO) for multiple DOE sites. Frank joined CMP Technology's Channel group in 1999 as a Technical Editor assigned to the CRN Test Center, within a year, Frank became the Senior Technical Editor, and was responsible for designing product testing methodologies, assigning product reviews, roundups and bakeoffs to the CRN Test Center staff.In 2003, Frank was named Technology Editor of CRN. In that capacity, he ensured that CRN maintained a clearer focus on technology and increased the integration of the Test Center's review content into both CRN's print and web properties. He also contributed to Netseminar's, hosted sessions at CMP's Xchange Channel trade shows and helped to develop new methods of content delivery, Such as CRN-TV.In September of 2004, Frank became the Director of the CRN Test Center and was charged with increasing the Test Center's contributions to CMP's Channel Web online presence and CMP's latest monthly publication, Digital Connect, a magazine geared towards the home integrator. He also continued to contribute to CMP's Netseminar series, Xchange events, industry conferences and CRN-TV.In January of 2007, CMP Launched CRNtech, a monthly publication focused on technology for the channel, with a mailed audience of 70,000 qualified readers. Frank was instrumental in the development and design of CRNTech and was the editorial director of the publication as well as its primary contributor. He also maintained the edit calendar, and hosted quarterly CRNTech Live events.In June 2007, Frank was named Senior Technology Analyst and became responsible for the technical focus and edit calendars of all the Channel Group's publications, including CRN, CRNTech, and VARBusiness, along with the Channel Group's specialized publications Solutions Inc., Government VAR, TechBuilder and various custom publications. Frank joined Ziff Davis Enterprise in September of 2007 and focuses on creating editorial content geared towards the purveyors of Information Technology products and services. Frank writes comparative reviews, channel analysis pieces and participates in many of Ziff Davis Enterprise's tradeshows and webinars. He has received several awards for his writing and editing, including back to back best review of the year awards, and a president's award for CRN-TV. Frank speaks at many industry conferences, is a contributor to several IT Books, holds several records for online hits and has several industry certifications, including Novell's CNE, Microsoft's MCP.Frank can be reached at frank.ohlhorst@ziffdavisenterprise.com

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