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New Riverbed WAN optimization targets data center to data center

Riverbed Technology introduces appliance specifically geared to optimize data replication traffic between data centers.

Riverbed Technology is expanding its footprint in the data center with an appliance it claims can reduce the amount of bandwidth needed to support replication between data centers by 99%.

The new Riverbed WAN optimization appliance, the Steelhead DX Edition 8000 series, addresses data center-to-data center (DC-to-DC) replication. The device, which supports 2 Gbps of optimized WAN capacity and 10 Gbps of LAN capacity, can handle up to 10,000 TCP and UDP application flows. It's also integrated with NetApp SnapMirror and EMC Symmetrix Remote Data Facility, giving customers that use those platforms additional visibility and control over their data replication traffic.

The DX doubles the throughput and capacity of Riverbed's CX appliance, which the vendor now markets to the data center. The new device signals Riverbed's intention to use its existing branch office-to-data center WAN foundation and aggressively compete in the DC-to-DC replication space, said Brad Casemore, research director at Framingham, Mass.-based IDC.

"Riverbed hasn't focused as much on DC-to-DC applications, but now it will be able to sell itself as a single vendor that can handle both branch-to-data center as well as data center-to-data center. The performance specifications look good, and it also does a good job with data transfer and replication. And the partnerships Riverbed has with established storage players is absolutely necessary when handling these kinds of loads."

Riverbed WAN optimization appliance purpose-built for data center needs

Riverbed designed the DX after studying how customers were using its EX and CX Steelhead appliances, which target branch office-to-data center and DC-to-DC deployments, respectively, said Joshua Dobies, Riverbed's group product manager for Steelhead WAN optimization. "As we looked at how to scale the opportunity and deployment into this area, we had to recognize that the workloads of these two halves are actually quite different. When you are looking at the branch-to-DC, it's all about users and accelerating transactions -- and the workloads in the DC-to-DC couldn't be more different. It's about data, few numbers of very long-lived connections that are sending data at a very high rate." The DX, he said, is "purpose-built" to target the DC-to-DC optimization market.

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The volume of data replication and associated business continuity traffic continues to skyrocket as enterprises generate more information and transactions. Data center consolidation alone is expected to fuel a 50% jump in DC-to-DC traffic each year, according to Riverbed's research, while the elimination of tape backup will move even more traffic to the WAN.

Even as this migration occurs, IT managers worry about WAN performance, either due to congestion or low-quality links. With the Steelhead DX, some of those concerns can be allayed, Casemore said, adding that Riverbed's compression algorithm, along with its optimization technology and hardware approach, "makes this unique."

"It's not just TCP/IP, but storage protocols plus caching plus all the other elements that WAN optimization entails," Casemore said.

The DX is available now, and priced at $199,995.

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