Riverbed Unveils Cloud-Based WAN Optimization and Backup Appliances

The Riverbed Cloud Steelhead optimizes the WAN link between the cloud environment and the organization's network. Whitewater will deduplicate and encrypt data stored in the cloud.

Riverbed Technology unveiled two new network optimization appliances aiming squarely for the public cloud on Nov. 10.

The Riverbed Cloud Steelhead is a version of its existing WAN optimization appliance that has been redesigned specifically for public cloud environments, and the Riverbed Whitewater appliance is a cloud storage accelerator. They will both be generally available by the end of the year.

At the launch event, Riverbed's senior vice president Eric Wolford was joined by a slew of analysts and partners who took part in demonstrations. Riverbed customers such as Razorfish were also on hand.

Wolford called the launch a "sequel" to last year's event, where Riverbed promised optimization products for the cloud. Riverbed was there to "deliver on the promises made last year," Wolford said, with the Cloud Steelhead and Whitewater products.

Designed to accelerate the process of migrating data and applications to the public cloud, the Cloud Steelhead would initially work for organizations who use Amazon EC2 or Virtual Private Cloud, said Wolford. It will also accelerate user access to data stored there as well as the applications running on the cloud.

Integration with other cloud environments are in the works, Wolford said.

Traditionally, Riverbed's Steelhead appliances sit on both sides of a wide area network and pass data back and forth to each other. The Cloud Steelhead works similarly. IT managers will take a virtual Steelhead appliance and deploy it within their cloud environments. It will communicate with the Steelhead appliance on the IT organization's side of the WAN link, whether as a physical Steelhead appliance or the Virtual Steelhead.

Existing Steelhead installations can easily communicate with the Cloud Steelhead, Wolford said.

The Cloud Steelhead comes with a new discovery system that enables applications to work with the appliance without needing to do any configuration on the cloud environment, Wolford said.

Deploying in the public cloud is a challenge because IT managers don't know everything about the hardware or network environment that the applications are running on, Wolford said. The physical servers can be moved, IP server addresses and subnets can change and the underlying host can also change, especially in highly automated virtualized environments, he said.

Using the Discovery Agent, servers will automatically redirect connections to the Cloud Steelhead because the binding between the application and Steelhead is preserved, Wolford said.

At the launch event, Riverbed demonstrated Cloud Steelhead on a MacBook downloading a file from the cloud, and doing the same thing without an optimized WAN link. The Cloud Steelhead was noticeably faster, about 10 times.

The Riverbed Cloud Portal will allow IT administrators to manage existing Cloud Steelheads and to clone settings and configurations to new instances.

The new Whitewater appliance is designed to seamlessly and securely integrate cloud storage into the organization's existing backup and disaster recovery strategies, Riverbed said. The new appliance differs from the Steelhead appliance in that IT managers install it only on the organization's side, not in the cloud.

Designed to move offsite data to cloud storage, Whitewater will be powered by EMC Atmos, AT&T Synaptic Storage as a Service and Amazon S3, the company said.

Deploying Whitewater does not require any changes to the backup infrastructure. All the data first passes through Whitewater before the backup server processes the stream. The appliance uses its deduplication capability to reduce the data volume and then encrypts it using AES 256 encryption. The backup server processes the data as usual and stores it in the cloud. Because it has been deduplicated, it is smaller and helps organizations reduce storage costs, said Riverbed.

The keys are stored with the appliance. When the data needs to be restored, the appliance obtains the data from the cloud, uses the encryption keys, and restores the deduplicated data to its original form.

The Cloud Steelhead will be available on a subscription-based pricing model. Riverbed said it is looking to enable pay-by-the-bit storage and off-site data storage and will be available as both a virtual and physical appliance.