Riverbed Keeps Rolling With Virtual Acceleration

By Sean Michael Kerner (Send Email)
Posted Oct 28, 2008


In today's tough economy every IT organization is trying to do more with less.

On the heels of presenting solid financial results, the acceleration vendor introduced new products in this highly competitive space.

Network acceleration vendor Riverbed Technology is preaching the same message with a pitch to help enterprises consolidate more services at the branch level.

The company's latest RiOS 5.5 (Riverbed Operating System) release includes an expanded services capability that could end up removing extra physical DNS, DHCP and print servers from branch offices.

The new Riverbed release come on the heels of strong third quarter 2008 financial results with reported revenues of $86.5 million, up 37 percent over the prior year. The results help explain how hot the network acceleration market has become with Cisco, Citrix, Blue Coat, Juniper and others all trying to claim a piece of growing pie.

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The overall market for WAN acceleration hit $700 million in 2007 and is projected to hit $1.2 billion by 2010.

"One of the things we've always enabled with wide area optimization is pulling files servers out of the branch office letting you consolidate in the data center while still giving local performance," Nik Rouda senior product marketing manager at Riverbed told InternetNews.com. "Now with some of the new things we're doing with Riverbed Services Platform we're letting branch offices run some of the other services aside from file sharing without adding unnecessary servers."

Riverbed's Services Platform (RSP) was first rolled out by Riverbed as part of the RiOS 5.0 release earlier this year. RiOS is the core system that power's Riverbed's acceleration hardware. In RiOS 5.5, RSP has been expanded to be VMware enabled such that virtual services can run on top of Riverbed's Steelhead acceleration appliances.

Rouda noted that Riverbed has partnered with VMware to allow for up to five VMDK (Virtual Machine Disk format) based applications to be run on a Steelhead appliance. The goal is take applications like a print server than normally would run on a separate server and consolidate it into the Steelhead. Rouda argued that a branch office could take out unnecessary servers with the approach, minimizing management and power costs while reducing branch office server sprawl.

The idea of running virtual services on a WAN acceleration appliance is not entirely new. Networking giant Cisco offers its users a virtual blade for its WAAS (Wide Area Application Services) appliance that can contain an entire Windows Server 2008 operating system. Rouda admitted that what Cisco is doing is somewhat similar though he argued that the Riverbed offering is more flexible in its approach.

Citrix is also a fierce competitor in the network acceleration space has its own views on how virtualization can be optimized. Using its XenServer technology, Citrix has the ability to power virtual services on or off depending on demand. Citrix has also entered into a partnership with Akamai to deliver a optimized network for acceleration. Rouda argued that the Riverbed approach is a little different in that they are trying to position the RSP as a technology to enable a serverless branch office.

Then there is Blue Coast, which has paired security with network acceleration in its latest release. Blue Coat's ProxyClient integrates by default with the provider's WebPulse cloud based security service. This helps ensure that endpoints are secured even when they're not connected directly to the enterprise WAN.

While Riverbed does not have the same secuirty technology as Blue Coat, Rouda argued that with the virtualization services available via RSP, a branch office could deploy security software on a Steelhead as well.

Competitive and market issues aside, Rouda is confident that there is more opportunity in the current market for Riverbed.

"Our value proposition is even better in a tight economy where people are looking to get more our of their existing infrastructure," Rouda said.

This article was originally published on InternetNews.com.

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