Riverbed reshapes WAN optimization strategy with Juniper partnership, products

Riverbed announced the availability of new model Steelhead WAN optimization appliances and native support for VMware's ESX hypervisor on Wednesday. It also said it was partnering with Juniper to offer its WAN optimization customers an upgrade path.

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The new CX7055 family of WAN optimization devices brings SSD-based storage to the table, for better performance -- anywhere from 1.6TB for the $130,000 L model to 5.8TB for the $235,000 H device. The 2U units can manage between 622Mbps (CX7055L) and 1.5Gbps (CX7055H) of WAN capacity. The CX5055 line also boasts SSD technology, trading some capacity for a lower price point -- the CX5055M, which handles 200Mbps, costs $65,000 and the 400Mbps CX5505H goes for $100,000.

However, it's the new integration of VMware software directly into the EX line of "branch-in-a-box" devices that Riverbed is particularly eager to show off.

Miles Kelly, Steelhead senior director of product marketing, says that the new "virtual edge" of the data center includes virtual infrastructure in the branch. There are three key advantages to a more centralized model of provisioning: consolidation, scalability and what he refers to as "agile" service delivery. Adding VMware's ESX hypervisor accomplishes that task.

"Bringing a virtualization layer to the branch office box allows organizations to virtualize otherwise dedicated servers in the branch, so you can take DNS, DHCP, your print functions -- these are virtualized on that Steelhead EX box," he says.

The ability to run a large proportion of branch services virtually from the data center using the WAN is a powerful simplification, and one that should prove highly attractive to growing businesses, Kelly says.

Meanwhile the new products come in the wake of a recent announcement that Juniper Networks will shift its emphasis away from its own WAN optimization solutions, partnering instead with Riverbed. Accordingly, the latter company said on Monday that it would offer a trade-in program to users of Juniper's WX and WXC series acceleration appliances, providing them with Steelhead devices instead.

Riverbed also announced new versions of its Steelhead Mobile application -- which is used to manage endpoints like laptops -- and RiOS, the software running on its WAN optimization device, adding security and quality of service improvements.

Email Jon Gold at jgold@nww.com and follow him on Twitter at @NWWJonGold.

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