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Granite becomes Steel: Riverbed rebrands its ROBO gear

Lucky customers get to play with a BRA as well

Maximizing your infrastructure through virtualization

Granite is an unchanging rock. The ROBO product of that name, however, has just been rebranded by Riverbed as SteelFusion, nominally tying it into Riverbed's Steelhead WAN optimiser products.

The Granite product was pitched at removing servers from remote and branch offices and replacing them with a fast pipe to a central office. The ROBO desktops talk to data centre servers through the pipe instead of local servers and so, Riverbed says, IT gets a more efficient and protectable operation.

The pipe had a Granite Edge device in the remote office linking to a Granite Core in the data centre: a physical or virtual appliance. The Granite Edge device could run on a Steelhead EX box because, of course, the centre-ROBO network link was optimised to reduce IP chatter, etc.

Now we have SteelFusion Edge and SteelFusion Core components in the SteelFusion product set; effectively, Granite 3.0. This set, Riverbed says, "centralises data in the datacenter and delivers local performance and nearly instant recovery at the branch," using the expert data centre staff and facilities instead of the branch staff who would typically be less proficient.

What's new, apart from the rebranding, is:

  • SteelFusion 1360P appliance for branch has six times more performance than previous top Granite Edge box
  • SteelFusion Core 3000 data centre box has 100TB capacity instead of previous Granite box's 35TB
  • Branch Recovery Agent (BRA - really?) uses a predictive pre-fetch concept to reduce recovery time
  • Pooled management of storage delivery controllers
  • Support for NetApp cluster mode and EMC VNX2 snapshots

The Branch Recovery Agent pre-caches and pre-warms files and data that users access. If there is an outage at the data centre, Riverbed says the branch users can continue working as if it hasn't happened.

The main pitch here hasn't changed; ROBO IT operations can have a lower total cost of ownership by using SteelFusion instead of branch-based servers linked to networked local storage.

After two years Granite have sold 87,000 end-points – that is, remote offices – are using it. There's a lot more branch offices out there and Riverbed wants to kill the branch office server business stone dead. As both servers and storage get more powerful and easier to manage then it has to run faster and faster to preserve its TCO advantages, and that's all it basically has.

For the individual users in the branch offices may not get anything advantageous from SteelFusion in their normal working lives at all. If they are lucky their productivity is not affected by slower-executing applications and slower data access. If they are not, then their productivity has been judged to be less important than cutting the ROBO IT total cost of ownership.

Read a PDF spec sheet here. Product availability is set for early May. ®

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