Article

Riverbed touts cloud performance fix

Jo Maitland, Senior Executive Editor
SAN CARLOS, CA – Two new Riverbed Technology products, the Cloud Steelhead WAN Acceleration appliance and Whitewater cloud storage accelerator, promise to address major performance issues in the public cloud.

Network latency and performance degradation concerns are a big worry for enterprise IT shops when it comes to accessing data and applications hosted in the cloud.

"They just alleviated this problem," said Mark Malindog, director of technology operations at Gensler, a global architecture firm beta-testing the product. Riverbed launched the products Wednesday at a press and analyst event at the Hiller Aviation Museum here.

The Cloud Steelhead WAN acceleration appliance speeds-up the transfer of data to the public cloud and improves the performance of cloud-hosted applications by allowing near-instant access to that data and applications from any location.

Initially integrated with Amazon EC2 and Virtual Private Cloud (Amazon VPC), users buy and manage the Cloud Steelhead through Riverbed's cloud portal. With a license to deploy a virtual Steelhead, users go to the portal which spits out a key to activate the Cloud Steelhead on a virtual machine in Amazon EC2. The Steelhead discovery agent sets up an "optimized connection" and only that customer's traffic runs over this link. Riverbed's subscription-based pricing model enables cloud-like economics for WAN optimization.

Gensler, with 33 data centers worldwide, tested the Cloud Steelhead by moving 40

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to 90 MB BIM files into Amazon's S3 storage service. Then they tried to open the files. "It kept stalling on opening," said Malindog. When Gensler added a Cloud Steelhead into the mix a 60 MB file opened in a few seconds. With Cloud Steelhead "we got five times the performance," he claimed.

Gensler is testing the appliance in both AWS and AT&T's Synaptic Storage Cloud to see which performs best. "We don't care which provider [it is] as long as we see the performance," said Malindog. Cloud services make sense for Gensler because it is gradually running out of data center space and is reluctant to keep "flipping gear" every three years to keep its data centers up to date. "It's expensive and that's not our business," he said.

Riverbed still has some creases to iron out before he is able to move production data around using the Cloud Steelhead. "There are some compatibility issues, it only supports SAMBA today, not CIFS," he said. CIFS is the industry standard protocol for file sharing over the Internet. He also has to check with AWS on the geographic issues as Amazon will move resources across its Availability Zones to optimize utilization rates.

"We need to be able to move our data close to where the project is happening and that can change, but we need to control that location," Malindog said.

Meanwhile Robert Whitely, VP and research director at Forrester, said the more interesting product, right now at least, is the Whitewater appliance, as this solves an immediate problem for many companies. "Everyone does backups, has too much data and finds storage too expensive," he said. But not everybody is ready to move applications to the cloud.

Whitewater integrates with existing backup software to securely accelerate and deduplicate backup and archival data to the cloud and restore from these offsite facilities, at any time. Beta testers of the appliance said they have seen backup windows 35 to 40% shorter while completing full weekly backups, compared to their existing disk backup infrastructure.

By encrypting data on-site, in-flight and at the cloud provider using 256-bit AES encryption and SSL v3, the Whitewater appliance helps ensure that any data moved into cloud is secure.

Whitewater currently works with AWS S3, AT&T Synaptic Storage as a Service and EMC Atmos. Both products will ship by the end of the year.


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