Riverbed to Offer Virtual Steelhead WAN Optimization Appliance

Riverbed joins a number of other vendors, including Blue Coat Systems, in offering a virtual WAN optimization appliance. Riverbed's Virtual Steelhead will be available later in the third quarter.

Riverbed Technology is rolling out a virtualized version of its Steelhead WAN optimization appliance, a move that company officials said will enable the Steelhead technology to be put into a larger number of environments.

Riverbed introduced Virtual Steelhead July 22, adding that it will be available later in the quarter.

Virtual Steelhead, which comes in 11 models, will give customers more options when deploying Riverbed's technology, according to Apurva Dave, vice president of product marketing at Riverbed.

"There's a need for even greater flexibility," Dave said in an interview with eWEEK. "This takes all of the core benefits of our technology and puts them into a new form factor."

Those benefits include the use of RiOS (Riverbed Operating System) 6.1 for the virtual and physical Steelhead appliances, and the ability to offer the same level of performance in the virtual product that is found in the physical one.

Virtual Steelhead is designed to run on VMware's vSphere virtualization platform. Like the physical appliances, Virtual Steelhead is made to accelerate WAN and application performance in enterprise networks.

Riverbed joins a number of other companies that offer virtual WAN optimization appliances, including Blue Coat Systems with its ProxySG Virtual Appliances, Certeon with its aCelera Virtual Appliance and Silver Peak Systems with its VX-5000 appliance.

Riverbed officials first talked about a virtual Steelhead appliance in November 2009, when they announced plans to roll out a host of new products designed to improve performance of applications in public clouds. They also talked about a product called Cloud Steelhead, which is still in the works.

Dave said Virtual Steelhead will enable Riverbed to expand the reach of the WAN optimization technology. More than 8,300 customers already use Steelhead appliances. The Steelhead capabilities will now be usable in such areas as ruggedized military environments and first-responder emergency situations, highly virtualized data centers, remote facilities, or spaces that a physical appliance could not fit.

"What we're doing with our virtual technology is we're giving customers a lot of choice," Dave said. "We're not trying to force the customer to make a choice. A Virtual Steelhead is a Steelhead."