SteelConnect Makes Azure Deployments Secure and Simple


Business requirements for IT are changing: IT needs to provide quick turnaround on projects and accommodate flexible network and compute workloads. Many teams are turning to the cloud to provide these capabilities. To make the best use of the cloud, you want a single management system that can ensure orchestration, performance, and security — even across different cloud vendors. Riverbed SteelConnect™ has already proven its mettle in Amazon Web Services (AWS) — and now it’s available for Microsoft Azure.

Azure is particularly attractive to enterprises running applications like Microsoft SharePoint or Microsoft Exchange — that’s Microsoft’s core competency, after all. Once the Azure network is set up, the next natural step is to establish secure connectivity from branches to Azure or between Azure networks. And that’s where SteelConnect comes in.

We recently spoke with Angelo Comazzetto, Riverbed’s technical director of cloud, who says that there are three key benefits to using SteelConnect with Azure:

  • Automated, secure connections
  • Cross-regional deployment
  • Ability to copy between clouds

We’ve covered these benefits in detail below. Take a look, and when you’re ready, sign up for the Riverbed SteelConnect Gateway through the Microsoft Azure Marketplace. It’s easy to deploy (and undeploy).

Now, let’s take a deeper look at the benefits.

Benefit #1: Automated, secure connections

With SteelConnect, you don’t have to retool connectivity from each branch office to the cloud to maintain secure connections, or use the datacenter as an awkward gateway to the cloud servers.

SteelConnect will automatically build the connections you need from your users right to Azure, as seen in Figure 1. “We provide fully encrypted, super-secure access transparently from any site in your company,” Comazzetto says.

Figure 1. Automatically build the connections you need from your endpoints right to Azure. (Click image for larger size.)

Benefit #2: Cross-regional deployment

Cloud services like Azure are often segmented into walled-off geographic regions — so apps running in the cloud in Ireland don’t necessarily communicate with those in Singapore. Fortunately, SteelConnect can automatically deploy gateways in each region, providing an encrypted data path for connectivity between them, as shown in Figure 2.

Figure 2. Securely connecting two Azure regions with SteelConnect. (Click image for larger size.)

Benefit #3: Copying between clouds

With SteelConnect managing both AWS and Azure, you can now create secure communications paths between the two cloud vendors, through which you can send files from one to the other. Software-defined WAN policies established for the rest of your hybrid network are ubiquitously implemented across the connectivity fabric, so you can remove silos in workflows for managing the cloud versus the WAN.

Ease of use and tools you trust

What do all of these benefits have in common? They involve intelligent automation of workflows that network engineers are already familiar with. Hence, the automation doesn’t involve untested proprietary solutions; it builds on tools you already know and trust.

“A network admin will look at how we work and say, ‘OK, you’re building IPSec VPN tunnels,’” says Comazzetto. “‘I already trust that stuff. I just don’t want to build 8,000 of them myself by hand.’ And that’s the beauty here: We’ve done the hard work for you.”

The deployment process also keeps disruption to a minimum. “We don’t break your carefully crafted cloud architecture,” says Comazzetto. “We deploy as another door where things can go through. And if you do decide that you don’t want us, it undeploys in a few clicks and you’d never even know we were there.”

Easy, affordable set up from the Azure Marketplace

If you want to deploy SteelConnect in Azure, you’ll get the simple purchasing and payment options you’ve come to expect from the cloud. You can find the Riverbed SteelConnect Gateway in the Azure Marketplace, and payment is based on hourly usage, so you can test-drive it without having to make a big investment. You can also easily upgrade to larger gateways if you need more throughput.

What’s ahead?

This is Riverbed’s first move into Azure, but there are more features and capabilities planned for 2017. Riverbed aims to have single-click Riverbed SteelHead™ acceleration as part of the SteelConnect stack for Azure this year, to make everything that’s going over those links happen much faster. There are also plans for high availability options, which aim to let you run multiple SteelConnect instances in Azure that can fail back and forth to each other.

But the bottom line is that SteelConnect already provides a great value for anyone thinking about deploying into Azure. As Comazzetto puts it, “SteelConnect offers you the ability to connect your workforce directly to your Azure apps. And you don’t have to know much about the cloud to wield it effectively.”