The latest operating system upgrade, RIOS 5.5, includes upgrades to Riverbed Services Platform (RSP) that can make Steelhead appliances run more efficiently. RSP is the name Riverbed gives to the ability of its appliances to act as branch application servers.
The efficiency comes from exempting traffic from being accelerated, thereby making transactions simpler and using up less processing power. For example, if a Steelhead appliance hosts the branch DNS server, there is no need for LAN requests for IP addresses to be accelerated. The upgrade allows this type of acceleration avoidance to happen for both LAN and WAN traffic as specified by corporate policy.
In addition, RSP can now handle five separate applications on VMware virtual machines. That is up from one running at a time on a Linux platform.
Riverbed devices compete against WAN acceleration gear from Cisco, Juniper, Expand, F5 Silver Peak and others.
Riverbed is also upgrading its acceleration client, which makes it possible for individual remote machines to optimize traffic with a Steelhead device. The new version accelerates SSL and Secure-HTTP traffic using the same trust model that is used in Steelhead-to-Steelhead transactions. Separate SSL sessions are created between the requesting application on the remote machine and the Steelhead Mobile client; between the client and a Steelhead appliance; and between the appliance and the application server the remote machine is trying to reach.
That way no encryption keys leave individual sites. A certificate authority validates the keys used over the WAN link. Steelhead’s Mobile Controller platform can act as the certificate authority for smaller customers that may not have their own authority.
The upgrades include a way to stretch licenses for mobile clients by billing customers for concurrent usage. Before, clients paid for every machine that had a client whether the client was in use or not.
With the upgrade, when a client machine plugs into an office LAN that has a Steelhead device, the mobile client shuts itself off and frees up a license for someone else. Customers can set priority for which machines get available license, so wireless connections might be given priority over wired ones.
Steelhead appliances now use RAM to process data reduction, which is faster than doing it on disk and enables throughput speeds approaching 1Gbps. This is important for businesses backing up data centers in which more data was being sent at Steelheads than they could handle. In order to keep up, they had to fall back to doing standard compression without Riverbed’s more effective data reduction, the company says.
The devices already have enough RAM to accomplish this, so no hardware upgrade is needed, Riverbed says.
In addition, Riverbed has added optimization specifically for applications based on Domino so Steelheads can further reduce traffic crossing the WAN from these applications in addition to the generic acceleration the devices perform on all traffic.