Riverbed Integrates VMware Virtualization Into Steelhead Appliances

By integrating vSphere into its Steelhead WAN optimization appliance, Riverbed enables businesses to extend virtual services to branch offices from central data centers.

Riverbed Technology is leveraging VMware technology in some of its Steelhead WAN optimization appliances to help businesses extend the reach of their virtual data centers and to handle the influx of users, data and devices hitting their networks.

Riverbed is integrating VMware’s vSphere virtualization platform into its Steelhead EX model appliances, offering enterprises a more centralized management capability for their distributed virtualized environments and enabling them to expand the efforts they’ve made in virtualizing their data centers to branch offices and remote campuses.

Such capabilities are becoming increasingly important in light of the rapid growth in the number of users and devices demanding access to corporate IT networks, and the amount of traffic that is running through them, according to Miles Kelly, senior director of product marketing. That includes 2.2 billion Internet users worldwide, 6 billion connected mobile devices, 1.5 billion connected PCs, and massive amounts of data traffic running over the networks and being stored.

The problem is that while all this growth—the amount of data traffic is expected to double every two years, Kelly told eWEEK—is putting pressure on networks, businesses are not able to invest in the infrastructure they need to keep up, he said. Virtualization has been making data centers more efficient, and is being widely adopted by businesses, with 66 percent of all workloads expected to be virtualized by the end of the year, Kelly said, adding that virtualization and cloud computing hold the key.

“It’s data center efficiency that is going to help bridge that gap” between what’s being asked of enterprise networks and what they can do, he said.

Businesses now must be able to extend those virtualized services and cloud technologies out to branch offices and remote and mobile users, which will help save money, improve data protection and enable those sources to be managed centrally. Riverbed will deliver those capabilities through the Steelhead EX appliances running VMware vSphere and paired with its Granite edge virtual server technology.

The integration of the virtualization technology on the WAN optimization appliance will mean businesses can run the services they need for their branch offices virtually from a central data center will help enterprises save money, protect data and run more efficiently, Kelly said.

Steelhead appliances already come with Riverbed’s Virtual Services Platform. Riverbed is integrating vSphere 5 into the platform, and the virtual machines created at the remote office on the Steelhead appliance can then be managed centrally from the main data center via VMware’s vSphere vCenter Server technology. The new Steelhead appliances will be available in the fourth quarter.

“It allows organizations to build their data centers with no boundaries,” Kelly said.

In addition, Riverbed also announced Oct. 3 other new Steelhead hardware models and software enhancements. The company unveiled new Steelhead CX appliances with solid-state drives (SSDs) and upgrades to its Steelhead Mobile client software and Riverbed Optimization System (RiOS), all designed to help businesses consolidate and scale their IT environments.

Included in the announcement were new Steelhead CX 5055 and CX 7055 WAN optimization appliances, giving enterprises a cost-effective way to scale, according to Riverbed officials. They offer up to a 50 percent increase in both WAN capacity and the number of connections supported by a single appliance as compared with the current Steelhead 5050 and 7050.

Steelhead Mobile 4.0 makes it easier for businesses to manage and provision mobile users, and to support up to 120,000 mobile users. It includes support for Kerberos authentication technology that is used by Microsoft applications and platforms. In addition, new cluster capabilities and an improved user interface in the Steelhead Mobile Controller enables businesses to more easily configure policies and scale.