Riverbed releases gigabit-speed WAN optimizer

Riverbed uses solid-state drives in its WAN accelerators

Riverbed Technology Inc. today released two new models of its WAN optimization engine, the Steelhead appliance, which can now achieve network throughput speeds of up to 1Gbit/sec. over Ethernet or OC-12 connections.

The new appliance, the Steelhead 7050-L (low) and 7050-M (medium), are the first to use solid-state drives (SSD) instead of hard disk drives and offer larger memory configurations -- 32GB/48GB of memory -- than previous models. The appliances are aimed at backup consolidation for disaster recovery and business continuity.

"This is the first WAN optimization product built on SSD, which enables faster read/write speeds," said Nik Rouda, director of product marketing at Riverbed.

The appliances also support 10Gbit/sec. Ethernet for appliance clustering or for fail-over purposes. Up to 25 appliances can be clustered together for a total of 12GB/sec. throughput, according to Roudam.

The Steelhead 7050-L and 7050-M can be configured with 14 or 28 160GB SSD drives respectively, and two hard disk drives, which act as logging disks.

According to Rouda, the new appliances are aimed at data center consolidation, affording greater bandwidth for large-scale backups from multiple host systems. The 7050-L offers 75,000 host system connections, and the 7050-M offers 100,000 connections, or a maximum of 20,000 users all backing up through a single appliance.

The appliances use a combination of data compression and de-duplication technology to achieve a data reduction rate of from 3:1 to 8:1, according to Rouda. The engines also perform TCP/IP optimization to further increase WAN bandwidth during data replication to off-site backup facilities.

Similar to RAID, the appliance also comes with a data store fault tolerance feature, a fail-over function within the 7050 Steelhead. If one of the SSDs fails, the 7050 can maintain high throughput and continue to optimize data access using the remaining disks.

In October, Riverbed launched a new version of its Riverbed Optimization System (RiOS) management software, which was aimed at supporting the hardware released today.

Rouda said the RiOS 6.0 software enabled support for Citrix XenApp, Mac clients, Oracle E-Business Suite 12 and many Web applications, such as those of Microsoft SharePoint and SAP.

Riverbed simplified the configuration and enhanced the quality of service capabilities for Citrix, with RiOS 6.0 delivering up to an 83% bandwidth reduction and up to 50% better response times, the company said. Riverbed claims that the bandwidth reduction will allow companies to deploy more than twice the number of XenApp clients without having to increase bandwidth at remote sites.

"CIOs are continuing to look for tools that will help them solve the ongoing dilemma to cut costs while increasing performance. WAN optimization is proving to be a viable solution to help them meet this challenge," Zeus Kerravala, an analyst at Yankee Group Research, said in a statement.

In RiOS 6.0, Riverbed introduced the ability to accelerate Mac clients with CIFS application-specific optimization. The company claims that Mac clients can back up 60 times faster through its appliance.

The 7050-L will retail for $180,000, and the 7050-M will cost $235,000. Both will be generally available this quarter.

Lucas Mearian covers storage, disaster recovery and business continuity, financial services infrastructure and health care IT for Computerworld. Follow Lucas on Twitter at @lucasmearian or subscribe to Lucas's RSS feed . His e-mail address is lmearian@computerworld.com.

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