Riverbed Updates WAN Software, Adds Exchange 2007 Support

The update makes Riverbed the first vendor to be able to accelerate Microsoft Exchange 2000, 2003 and 2007, according to Riverbed senior product marketing manager Harold Byun. Along with the update, the San Francisco-based vendor also launched the new RiOS Services Platform (RSP) to deliver virtualized edge services without having to deploy additional branch office servers.

Byun said the addition of support for Exchange 2007 makes Riverbed the first vendor to offer application-level optimization for three Exchange generations: 2000, 2003 and 2007.

Additionally, RiOS 5.0 adds acceleration capabilities to enterprise Web applications like SAP NetWeaver, Oracle, PeopleSoft/JD Edwards, Microsoft and Siebel CRM, SharePoint and Outlook Web Access by reducing the chattiness and delay found in Web applications to offer performance improvements of up to 10 times. Acceleration capabilities for Oracle 11i applications running in HTTP mode have also been added, complimenting support for Oracle 11i J-initiator socket mode optimization.

The RSP, which was also launched Monday, is a data services platform to enable the delivery of virtualized edge services without having to deploy additional physical service in remote or branch offices. The RSP offers services from their choice of vendors on Steelhead appliances in a self-contained partition to minimize the hardware footprint in branches, reducing the infrastructure required at a remote site to an RSP and a router.

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Byun said the RiOS updates and the addition of RSP give VARs tools to help their clients consolidate while also tacking-on value added services. Additionally, selling acceleration and optimization tools will allow VARs to give their clients tools for disaster recovery planning and help accelerate their migration to a virtual server infrastructure.

On the management front, RiOS 5.0 introduces role-based administration and a new GUI to revamp the Web-based management interface for Steelhead appliances. The interface, Byun said, features intuitive menus to simplify management and configuration.

Jason Schroder, a senior solutions consultant at Apex, N.C.-based solution provider NetDirect Systems said the enhanced management features, which NetDirect uses daily, have eased management and deployment.

"Our administrators have raved about the new management tools," he said. "They are very intuitive which allows us to effortlessly manage, report and deploy Steelhead appliances."

Riverbed has also added more deployment flexibility and control, introducing new features like hierarchical QoS and three new WAN visibility modes. Hierarchical QoS allows customers to assign different QoS specifications on a per site basis in addition to setting application or protocol priorities, meaning applications such as VoIP, video conferencing or other real-time traffic can be prioritized over the WAN based on that applications classification or bandwidth consumption.

For WAN transparency, Steelhead appliances now enable full IP or port-only address visibility on the WAN for optimized connections in additional to their default correct addressing modes. Three visibility modes let service providers select the appropriate mode of operation for their network without making sweeping architectural design changes to implement wide-area data services.

Paul Bonner, head of technical services at Zycko, a U.K.-based Riverbed reseller and customer, said the transparency adds new flexibility when implementing wide-area data services.

"The fact that we can deploy using multiple visibility modes in our environment for different use cases in an absolute bonus," he said.

Lastly, RiOS 5.0 adds in data security with enhanced SSL acceleration and new IPSec functionality, updates that NetDirect's Schroeder said ease his ability to accelerate SharePoint SSL traffic without requiring the distribution of certificates or private keys.

"With the enhanced SSL and Web application acceleration features in 5.0, it's incredibly easy to configure the Steelhead appliances to optimized SharePoint SSL traffic," he said.