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Riverbed speeds app and backup cloud access

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Network optimisation supplier Riverbed has introduced products to speed client access to applications in the cloud and to speed cloud backup and restore operations.

Riverbed's Steelhead appliances sit either side of a wide area network (WAN) link and speed remote office client access to applications and data in a central data centre, using a combination of WAN optimisation, app communication optimisation, caching and reduplication. The intention is to provide application access that seems to be local rather than WAN-based.

The company views access to applications in the cloudy as just another WAN link to be accelerated and does so by having a virtual Steelhead instance - the application code running in a virtual machine - executing in the cloud and dealing with the remote Steelhead used by the client system. Existing Steelhead installations can readily use it.

The Cloud Steelhead is not exactly the same as a virtualised Steelhead on the ground though. Paul Griffiths, a global consulting engineer at Riverbed Technology, said: "It is virtual in the sense that it is designed to be hosted in a hypervisor. However, it is not to be confused with Riverbed Virtual Steelhead. Cloud Steelhead is different because although it is running the same RiOS Software as any other Steelhead appliance, virtual or physical, Cloud Steelhead has the extra flexibility to enable it to be provisioned, accessed and leased in a cloud services model."

Cloud Steelhead v1.0 will integrate with Amazon's EC2 and Virtual Private Cloud (VPC). Cloud Steelheads can be deployed anywhere in the cloud; they don't have a fixed physical server location and therefore need to be told which traffic to optimise.

Steelhead instances will offer Steelhead Discovery Agent, running in a virtual server and deployed in a WAN optimisation group. It is in place for transparent cloud interception and to ensure that the Cloud Steelhead is, as it were, paired with a client Steelhead so that the right traffic gets optimised.

It is as if the remote Steelhead accesses the data centre Steelhead which, knowing that the access is valid and that there is a Cloud Steelhead for that traffic, redirects the remote Steelhead access to the Cloud Steelhead.

At the announcement event, Riverbed staff demonstrated Steelhead Mobile on a MacBook downloading a file from cloud via Cloud Steelhead and contrasted its LAN-like performance with downloading the same file from an un-optimised WAN link. It was much faster from the ground SteelHead-to-Cloud Steelhead link, about 10 times faster.

Riverbed said it will be aggressively expanding the cloud environments that Cloud Steelhead supports.

There is a Riverbed Cloud Portal for management and cloning of Cloud Steelhead instances, which will allow sysadms to use existing Cloud Steelhead settings and configurations when bringing new Cloud Steelhead instances online.

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