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Riverbed upgrades WAN acceleration solution

Posted: 16 Oct 2006 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Riverbed? Riverbed Optimization System? RiOS 3.0? WAN acceleration? Loring Wirbel?

Riverbed Technology Inc. is making the first major expansion of WAN acceleration hardware and software since its IPO earlier this year. Alan Saldich, VP of product marketing, said the Unix- and network file system (NFS)-specific features of the Riverbed Optimization System (RiOS) 3.0 release will increase the system's interest to those working in EDA, mechanical CAD and similar R&D applications using versioning in a Unix environment.

Riverbed's Steelhead hardware now extends to systems offering up to two 155Mbps (OC-3) connections and more than 3Tbytes of data storage. The Steelhead 5520 supports 16,000 TCP connections and an OC-3 channel; the Steelhead 6020 takes TCP connections to 40,000 and disk capacity to 3.2Tbytes, with dual OC-3 channels.

The hardware that allows the larger scaling factor is a front-end load balancer called the Interceptor 9200. The Interceptor supports up to a million TCP connections, and allows in-path clustering of Steelheads without the use of dedicated protocols like Web Cache Coordination Protocol. The Interceptor becomes the in-path system, with Steelheads deployed out of path. The 4Gbps of throughput can support up to 5,000 TCP connections a second per Steelhead unit.

In the new software release, streamlining takes place at both the NFS and transport layers. By reducing the "chattiness" of NFS operations, NFS services can be accelerated without caching or explicit proxies. The software uses read-ahead and metadata prefetch methods to accelerate all NFS versions up to 3.0. Transport streamlining simultaneously speeds TCP operations, since each Steelhead system operates as a TCP proxy.

Riverbed has added localized Internet Protocol classification and marking for QoS prioritization for TCP and UDP traffic, though Saldich said localized QoS still should be used only in special cases.

"We maintain our original position that QoS should be handled in the router first," he said. "But we realize that there are special cases, such as when the router is owned by a managed service provider, where you will want some QoS in the local appliance."

Software streamlines at network and transport layers. Net effect is a large reduction in WAN roundtrip transfers.

The Riverbed QoS tools allow each interface to maintain an independent QoS policy for each class of traffic. Guaranteed latency can be provided for real-time traffic, though Saldich said "it's a misnomer to talk about acceleration of real-time traffic. Real-time traffic, by definition, can't be accelerated. The important issue is latency improvements."

The software can auto-detect and correct for asymmetric routing problems, which often are encountered without the customer's knowing there are asymmetric routing nodes in the network.

Release 3.0 is also the first generation of Riverbed software to handle NetFlow traffic.

- Loring Wirbel
EE Times

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