Riverbed Technology has announced a new architectural approach called edge virtual server infrastructure (edge-VSI) that does for edge servers what virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) did for desktops: it allows IT to consolidate and manage all edge servers in the data center. But unlike VDI, edge-VSI does this while delivering 20-50% lower total cost of ownership (TCO).
Riverbed Granite is the revolutionary new product that enables edge-VSI. With Granite, global enterprises can achieve complete consolidation of edge applications, servers and storage to the data center, while delivering services to the edge of the enterprise as if they were local. Edge-VSI is complementary to wide area network (WAN) optimization, accelerating performance for applications and use cases not addressed by any WAN optimization approach today.
"We have offices across Asia, Europe and the United States and are pursuing a completely consolidated infrastructure to reduce our management requirements and lower our operating costs. Though we had centralized most of our IT infrastructure, we still had servers and storage in our remote locations," said Searl Tate, director of engineering, Paul Hastings. "Granite allows us to consolidate these remaining servers and storage and at the same time deliver the local application performance our remote employees demand. This complete consolidation model will reduce our total cost of ownership by a third, while reducing our risk profile and giving us the control we need."
Granite does what was previously thought impossible: it allows storage to be decoupled from its server over thousands of miles -- and actually work as if the storage were local to the server. The user gets uncompromised performance, while IT is able to manage, backup, provision, patch, expand, and protect the data for its far-flung enterprise all within the four walls of the data center.
Organizations that deploy Granite are expected to save up to 50% over traditional approaches to managing distributed infrastructure by eliminating costly backup and recovery processes in remote locations, consolidating underutilized edge servers and storage, and cutting many of the general IT administration costs including travel associated with managing infrastructure at the edge.
"Traditionally, data centers and remote offices have been managed through separate operational processes, procedures and infrastructures," said Dave Russell, Research Vice President, Storage Technologies and Strategies, at Gartner. "In an ideal world, IT could leverage its investment in building the data center of the future by putting its IT infrastructure into one central data center, with its control, economies of scale, and security. However, with workers at large enterprises distributed across the globe, performance is a key challenge, especially for storage heavy workloads. To make this a reality, a new approach is needed that addresses these currently challenging workloads."
The demands of custom and write-intensive applications in the branch, the need to work with large data-sets that defy existing WAN optimization techniques and the concern of user productivity in the face of WAN outages have forced businesses to maintain costly storage and application servers at the edge of the enterprise, increasing IT footprint and introducing administration and infrastructure overhead.
Granite solves bandwidth and latency problems over distributed networks, but lower in the technology stack -- at the block level -- making it possible to deliver global storage and server infrastructure extended from the data center over the WAN. By adding file system intelligence to the block layer, it, among other things, parallelizes interactions between server and storage that were otherwise sequential. This innovation means that distributed data and servers can now reside in one place and the performance for users at the edge will not be impacted, all while eliminating up to 50% of the costs associated with managing distributed infrastructure.
Granite requires two components: Granite Core, a physical or virtual appliance in the data center, and Granite Edge, a service running on a Steelhead EX in the branch office. By combining Steelhead EX + Granite, organizations can take advantage of greater consolidation and centralization with a powerful combination of WAN optimization, virtual services platform and innovative block-storage optimization. Alternatively, Granite Edge is available as a standalone appliance.
At the same time the company is introducing two new product series, Steelhead CX and Steelhead EX. The product families allow organizations to meet their top IT performance priorities, from accelerating application performance worldwide to completely consolidating remote office infrastructure into the data center.
"In an effort to simplify management, increase resource utilization and reduce costs, organizations have been actively consolidating and virtualizing IT environments into centralized data centers," said Bob Laliberte, senior analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group. "While these consolidation efforts provide numerous benefits, it is imperative that organizations ensure that these consolidated IT environments are adequately protected and available. Furthermore, these consolidation efforts can introduce inherent performance over distance challenges. Riverbed'sŪ enhanced Steelhead product family enables organizations to centralize virtually all applications, driving down operational overhead and costs, yet still maintain high levels of availability and improve end-user satisfaction."
The Steelhead product family is powered by the Riverbed Operating System (RiOS) software, which solves application performance problems to overcome bandwidth and geographical limitations to improve productivity and enable global collaboration. Enterprises utilizing Riverbed WAN optimization have reduced bandwidth consumption by 65% to 95% and accelerated application performance from five to 50x, even up to 100x in some cases. RiOS on the new appliances delivers the broadest set of optimizations available on platforms that are both easy to install and manage and provide industry-leading price/performance, allowing organizations to get more from their WAN optimization solution than ever before.
"While working with thousands of global organizations over the years, we've recognized a natural market segmentation. There are IT organizations that want WAN optimization for its core function -- to increase the performance of applications over the WAN for their distributed offices. There are other organizations that have a primary focus on consolidating their entire infrastructure," said Eric Wolford, executive vice president and GM, Products at Riverbed. "Our new high-performance product series meets the needs of both customer types."
The Steelhead CX series, like its predecessors in the xx50 series, overcomes bandwidth and geographic limitations to make users more productive, data transfers faster, and applications perform seamlessly regardless of location. However, the Steelhead CX series of appliances offers more capacity and throughput than previous Steelhead appliances at the same total cost of ownership.
"Performance is paramount in our business. The speed at which our attorneys can access, modify and send documents is vital," said Sean Power, CIO at Lathrop and Gage. "I'm impressed by the evolution of the Steelhead product family; the new Steelhead appliances have more memory, processing power and throughput than previous models, as well as delivering RAID and dual power supplies as standard on each appliance. As Steelhead appliances have demonstrated their worth every day and cemented themselves into our network as key devices in our WAN performance strategy, this is exactly what I've been looking for from Riverbed."
The Steelhead EX builds on Riverbed's award-winning WAN optimization solution, and adds to that a robust platform with more memory, disk, and CPU to support the Virtual Services Platform (VSP) and Granite, which was introduced today. And, every appliance in the Steelhead EX series is supported by high-performance solid state drives (SSDs).
The Steelhead EX series can also be upgraded to include Riverbed Granite, enabling the new architectural approach edge virtual server infrastructure (edge-VSI).