Riverbed and Microsoft, a Match Made in the Cloud


Today’s enterprise is increasingly a hybrid enterprise. It has IT assets on-premise, in the cloud or run by a third party. There is no one size fits all and there are tiers of applications that demand flexible deployment models, often leveraging a mix of application delivery mechanisms depending on real time systems, networks, user locations, devices and loads amongst other factors. On the supply side, there is a ton of options to run and deliver applications—ranging from enterprise managed data centers, co-location facilities with shared infrastructure, IaaS and SaaS.

So it is no surprise that global organizations and their IT departments grapple with more infrastructure choices to make than ever before and those choices don’t stop coming due to changing business requirements. Today’s hybrid enterprise is one that uses multiple IaaS providers, SaaS applications and enterprise applications delivered over any form-factor device, any user location and at any time.

The cloud brings in a lot of flexibility to shift underlying infrastructure landscape to changing needs of the enterprise with relatively low switching costs—in fact, 60% of enterprises have made secondary infrastructure shifts even after going to the cloud. With flexibility comes a new set of challenges for the enterprise. Firstly, this back and forth between clouds means more data traverses across the WAN. Secondly, it decreases our handle on applications, how they consume our network resources and the end user experience. Finally, there is a need for finer control over network assets as they map to applications and users.

Enterprises running applications on an IaaS such as Microsoft Azure with Riverbed SteelHead CX for Azure are able to get a better handle on the three challenges I described. Riverbed SteelHead brings in a triad of benefits—giving customers optimization, visibility and control—extracting the true promise of Azure as the ‘Data Center in the Cloud’.

I discussed this just a few weeks ago at Riverbed FORCE, our user conference, along side Niko Tziolis, Cloud Business Strategist at Microsoft. We ran through several uses cases where Riverbed SteelHead can help deliver on the true promise of Azure for enterprises. That promise is realized by extending application optimization and acceleration to enhance the user’s cloud experience by eliminating the performance limitations inherent in today’s hybrid networks and applications—bandwidth constraints, latency, and competition among applications.

Currently, customers may enjoy optimization between data center and branch, but have no solution for the compounded problems of the public cloud. These problems are magnified in backhauled Internet connections as they often force users to encounter 2x the amount of latency to reach an application, first to the backhaul point and then from that point to the SaaS application. Steelhead for Azure is the answer to this dilemma.

An updated version of our code can be installed on a SteelHead in the existing infrastructure and on as many SteelHeads as needed. The other half of the optimization pair is a SteelHead Cloud instance running as a virtual machine hosted in Azure, which can be quickly deployed right from the Azure Gallery.

After SteelHead for Azure is deployed organizations can enjoy end-to-end optimization across their cloud network with all the nimbleness associated with the cloud and needed by the business environment previously described.

But the benefits go beyond network performance optimization. We’re talking about:

  • Speedy migration to the cloud and simplified management
  • Acceleration of all applications and reduction of bandwidth consumption
  • Cloud-like, cost effective economics while attaining local-like performance
  • Provides elastic sizing and easy cloning for a scale-as-you-go infrastructure
  • Optimization of all HTTP(s) based services including:
    • Azure Site Recovery
    • Azure Backup
    • Azure hosted web sites and services
    • Azure hosted SharePoint farms
    • HTTPP(s) traffic to Azure hosted virtual machines

With these benefits, Microsoft Azure and Riverbed are a match made in the cloud when IaaS is critical to your business. For more information about Azure and Riverbed check out this video summarizing a study we did with Microsoft on accelerating Hyper-V Replica service. Now with SteelHead CX for Azure, Azure workloads can be optimized like LAN workloads.

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