Riverbed adds vSphere to Steelhead EX

When Riverbed Technology integrated a VMware server hypervisor into its Steelhead WAN optimization appliance earlier this year, it squeezed sever, storage and virtualization capabilities into one box.

However, an administrator was still needed to oversee the virtual machines at the branch.

Now, the company says, it’s done one better by upgrading to VMware’s vSphere virtutalization platform, allowing organizations to manage remote virtual machines from VMware’s vCenter management suite.

“It allows organizations to build a data centre with no boundaries, where the virtualization environment in the branch looks just like it would as it would as if it was in the walls of the data centre,” said Miles Kelly, Riverbed’s senior director of product marketing.

Combined with Riverbed’s Granite edge virtual server appliance, which allows organizations to bring storage back to the data centre, the solution allows the creation of a completely centralized enterprise environment, he said.

Steelhead EX appliances with vSphere licences will be available sometime before the end of the year. For those with the earlier server hypervisor a software wizard is available for upgrade.

The price of the appliance doesn’t change, but VMware licence pricing does.

Rohit Tellis, director of IT at Alamos Gold, a Toronto-based mining company with operations in Mexico and Turkey that bought Steelhead EX appliances earlier this year, is interested in the upgrade.

One of the reasons he picked the appliance is because Riverbed told him the vSphere upgrade was coming, he said in an interview.

WAN optimization is needed because the Internet connections in Turkey and Mexico are expensive have high latency. Alamos has a completely virtualized infrastructure, he said, and the Steelhead EX/Granite combo meant being able to bring back several application servers to the Toronto data centre that had been in Mexico. It is also able to host a new mine management application here. In addition, the company can now back up data from exploration camps, which it couldn’t do before.

The vSphere integration should make it easier to manage, Tellis said.

Riverbed also made other product announcements:

–Steelhead Mobile 4.0 WAN optimization software for laptops now can scale up to 120,000 mobile users and offers better security.

The application includes end-to-end Kerberos authentication support used by Microsoft applications and platforms including Active Directory and Windows Server, native optimization for SMBv2 traffic, and full-spectrum optimization for Outlook Anywhere, the company said.

There are also new clustering capabilities and an enhanced user interface in Steelhead Mobile Controller (SMC);

-Steelhead 5055 and 7055 large appliances replace the models 5050 and 7050. The difference is they have solid state disks, which the company says gives a 50 per cent improvement in throughput and connection count. When clustered the 7055s can scale up to 1 million connections, Riverbed said.

–a new version of the Riverbed operating system for Steelheads was also released. RiOS 8.0 has a new kernel, which the company says improves performance over the previous version. It can also recognize and prioritize more than 600 applications for acceleration, up from 100. In addition, as a result of a partnership with Teradici, for organizations using VMware View on desktops the OS now can peer into the PC- over-IP data stream and allow organizations to prioritize data — for example, keystroke data over print jobs.

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Howard Solomon
Howard Solomon
Currently a freelance writer, I'm the former editor of ITWorldCanada.com and Computing Canada. An IT journalist since 1997, I've written for several of ITWC's sister publications including ITBusiness.ca and Computer Dealer News. Before that I was a staff reporter at the Calgary Herald and the Brampton (Ont.) Daily Times. I can be reached at hsolomon [@] soloreporter.com

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