Posted by: s002spa | December 29, 2010

Riverbed – How Do I Love Thee?

As an IT professional there is nothing I value more than a product that *just works*. I’ve worked in the field long enough to recognize that there are very few products of this caliber to be found. The sad truth is that many products are hard-pressed to deliver on the lofty promises found within the pages of their marketing literature.

This is what makes my recent experience with Riverbed Technology’s Steelhead appliances truly amazing.

For the unfamiliar, Riverbed Technology’s Steelhead appliances are WAN optimization devices. The appliances optimize WAN traffic by deduplicating the data packets that pass through them.  It is tempting to conclude that the appliances are simply caching data.  Mention this to a Riverbed employee, and they will go to great lengths to explain why this conclusion is not technically accurate.

Semantics and marketing lingo aside, whatever these appliances are doing behind the curtain they do it EXTREMELY well!  Check out the following screenshots and I believe you’ll agree.

Let’s break down the performance numbers from the second screenshot.  Total Data Reduction for past month = 94%.  Allow me to repeat that for clarity.  Ninety.  Four.  Percent.  I was effectively spared from having to transmit over 1TB of data across the WAN.  Simply amazing!!!

It’s not hard to imagine how these appliances can be leveraged to tackle some formerly *impossible* tasks in your environment.  As an example, I can now accommodate full nightly backups of a remote site across the WAN to our corporate datacenter.  Prior to installing the appliances this task could only be completed once a week.  Check out the following screenshots for a before and after comparison.

The appliances are also capable of hosting VMware guests.  This is an add-on feature and it does have some minor limitations.  The limitations did not prevent me from leveraging this feature at remote sites to replace some aging server infrastructure.

Suffice it to say that I simply love these appliances!  They have increased the effective bandwidth between our remote sites and made our internal customers happier by improving the performance of critical applications.  All of this with no infrastructure or application changes and very little configuration or tuning.

Thank you Riverbed, for delivering a product that *just works*.

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