Riverbed Does Storage, “You Cannot Be Serious!!!”


And how about this to seal the deal, ‘Deploy a 100PB 1U appliance, expandable up to 10 Exabyte’s, in minutes, with every single storage vendor license and feature ever, every single backup vendor license and replication technology ever, and cross Geo Disaster Recovery, anywhere in the world.’

Take a step back

If my ‘politician style blustering’ got you this far then you’re either interested in what promises to be the best technology ever, or more likely, see how I fall flat on my face trying to justify such ridiculous statements, and I don’t blame you. So if I can take a moment to set the scene we’ll get to the 100PB and more…

If you know Riverbed at all you’ll know us best for our WAN optimization technology, a genuinely brilliant technology that does very clever things to the Network OSI Model (layers 4 and 7 if you’re interested) to make low speeds and high latencies across the WAN invisible to remote offices / branch offices (ROBO) users while they are accessing data center (DC) resources such as file, email, SharePoint and others.

SteelHead in the ROBO and a SteelHead in the DC and the WAN optimization happens auto-magically as the WAN traffic passes through the SteelHeads and the secret sauce is applied. Now there’s clearly more to it and we’ll save that for another day, but with that fundamental principle in place we can build on it and expand. 

SAN over the WAN

What has always stopped SAN protocols running over a WAN? Simple; slow speeds and high latencies making WAN based SAN deployments unusable, with any disk latency >25ms giving most servers and applications a hard time. And WAN’s are not exactly renowned for their reliability of connection and we all know how well a Windows Server reacts to having a drive disappear from underneath it!

So SAN over the WAN has always been possible because it’s just protocols over long distance, but it’s never been feasible… until now. Riverbed took all their years of WAN optimization experience at the application level and applied it to the storage level, which kind of makes sense. Storage silos in the ROBO’s have always been a necessary evil because some application just can’t play nicely over a WAN or in the cloud, they need to have a level of data reliability that’s not in the hands of the MPLS (WAN link) provider. 

Step forward Riverbed and ‘SteelHead Plus’ or as we call it, SteelFusion. SteelFusion is built alongside the SteelHead solution but takes it a step further by providing a smart storage layer inside the physical unit. Now that on its own is not ground breaking, and if you wanted to be nasty, you could say that a home router will allow you to add a USB drive for storage access, so what’s Riverbed bringing to the party? How about 100PB in 1U…

A 100PB 1U appliance, expandable up to 10 Exabyte’s, in minutes

Let’s get this out of the way early on, it’s not physically 100PB in 1U, if it was we would be ‘Dell Riverbed’! SteelFusion is a storage cache, it caches only the data that is needed and used, not everything that is available. To break that down into manageable slices this means that if;

  • You have a 100PB disk,
  • With 100TB’s of data on it,
  • But only ever used 10GB of that data…

…the SteelFusion cache (officially called BlockStream) will only need to have enough space for 10GB because that’s all the data that is used. SteelFusion has all the metadata for the disk so it presents a 100PB disk to the operating system (OS) and the OS knows how much space is used and free, the complete underlying file structure etc. but we don’t have to store all the data we don’t need right now.

All the data can be stored back in the DC where it’s safe and secure, and if we need any of it, we’ll use the SteelFusion secret sauce on the SteelFusion Core to read ahead, block map the data and push it up preemptively. 

This effectively means that you can present any size disk to the SteelFusion cache appliance, from 1 Gigabyte to 1 Exabyte it doesn’t matter, because we only hold the data that is used.

Every single storage vendor license and feature ever

SteelFusion for want of a better description, is a storage gateway. It manages and projects the disk to the right locations but it doesn’t actually touch the underlying file system or hold any of the disk data. All that data and disk management is done on the storage array, and SteelFusion doesn’t care which storage vendor that is or what happens to that disk; snapshot, clone, de-duplication, thin provision, storage tiering or whatever else comes out tomorrow. 

Pick a vendor, select the features you want and SteelFusion will dial in and present the disks while you enable any features on the array back end.

Every single backup vendor license and replication technology ever

And the same goes for backups! But in an even smarter twist because all the data is back in the DC, you can use your enterprise class backup infrastructure to access all the ROBO data and back it up centrally. Every remote tape drive, media server, tape management spreadsheet and offsite strategy just got removed and brought home.

Pick a vendor, select the features you want and SteelFusion will present all the ROBO data to one backup target for you to backup, replicate, warehouse or secure away for compliance.


Cross geo disaster recovery, anywhere in the world

How to manage a problem like cloud storage at the ROBO; number of sites x (requirements + management + external links + planning + support+… easier to concentrate on the DC right? SteelFusion combined with an Azure or AWS storage gateway allows you to project cloud storage from the DC out to any of the ROBO sites, all underpinned and running on SteelFusion. 

Create the perfect hybrid cloud infrastructure by having the right combinations of private cloud and public cloud storage access all managed, supported, and accessed from one place, but accessed all across the world. 

Plug in SteelFusion, switch it on and instantly access all your storage requirements no matter where you are. 

Riverbed does storage, about time!

Riverbed from day one has always been about performance and lower hardware footprints at the ROBO, and SteelFusion takes the next logical step of removing the storage silo from the ROBO and bringing it back to the safety and security of the DC. 

With intelligent storage cache architecture, vendor agnostic agility, backup solution flexibility, and hybrid cloud solutions all centrally managed, isn’t it about time you got serious? 

Find out more about the Software-Defined Edge and SteelFusion


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