Top Five SteelHead Use Cases that Deliver ROI in the Age of Digital Transformation


Riverbed's principals founded the company on the premise that WAN optimization was a transformative technology, and the past decade and a half has borne that out. But instead of sitting on our laurels, Riverbed SteelHead WAN optimization, an undisputed category leader, continues to progress with the times to meet the changing performance requirements of today's complex hybrid and cloud-centric networks.

Indeed, SteelHead now provides secure optimization of all applications, be they on-premise, in a remote office, SaaS, or IaaS. What's more, SteelHead bolsters not only application performance, but also the business bottom line. For example, survey results from an IDC whitepaper found a 497 percent ROI over the first three years of ownership.

Other tangible SteelHead benefits cited in the IDC research include:

  • 9 percent organization-wide productivity gain
  • 19 percent more efficient WAN management
  • 70 percent reduction in network-related unplanned downtime
  • 7 months to breakeven

Those numbers tell a compelling story. Let's examine five major use cases in which SteelHead's WAN optimization capabilities resolve your major infrastructure bottlenecks and help you achieve unparalleled performance and visibility.

#1. Reducing WAN latency for collaboration

Company-wide migrations to Microsoft Windows 10, Server 2016, and Office 2016 serve strategic objectives, but new performance issues inevitably appear in their wake. Throwing bandwidth at them is not the answer, as this fails to address both application and TCP latency. Instead, SteelHead's ability to minimize bandwidth usage and mitigate latency wins the day.

Average Annual Benefits per 100 users

Another pain point in recent migrations comes from the latest MAPI and SMBv3 protocols, which use encryption to increase privacy. SteelHead can deliver up to 40x acceleration on these crucial SSL protocols without compromising security certificates.

Proof point: A customer study about the Bhilwara Group provides some useful data points. Datacenter consolidation lead to application performance issues and decreased productivity. The company turned things around by deploying SteelHead CX appliances throughout the datacenter and at 10 off-site facilities, realizing 10x performance gains, 60 percent faster accounting processes, and a positive ROI in less than a year. (They are also now poised to expand into the cloud.) Read the full customer case study here.

#2. Preventing video gridlock

High-bandwidth video content is another common cause of performance complaints, whether caused by numerous users accessing a small number of training videos, video webcasting, or "recreational" usage of streaming sites.

Adapting to the situation, SteelHead can help with features like:

  • Web proxy/caching for on-demand videos: Without SteelHead, multiple users accessing the same on-demand video over the WAN cause multiple downloads, affecting other application traffic. With SteelHead’s web proxy feature providing a localized cache, the video is downloaded only once, and then accessed from the local cache in subsequent attempts.
  • Stream splitting for live video: Multiple users accessing the same video from a branch office can overwhelm the WAN. With the stream splitting methodology on SteelHead appliances, the video is sent over the WAN once, and then when the video traffic reaches the LAN, it is split and sent to the different users via the branch office LAN. Note: This method supports HTTP(S)-based adaptive bit rate protocols.

#3. Migrating to the cloud

While SaaS applications and IaaS migrations are a necessary part of today’s IT strategy, cloud performance is often questionable. While direct-to-SaaS connectivity and dedicated links such as Azure ExpressRoute or AWS Direct Connect are options to improving cloud performance, they may not cover all your users. SteelHead offers up to 33x acceleration of SaaS traffic and up to 97% bandwidth reduction.

SaaS and IaaS cloud computing is an essential part of any enterprise's strategy, but cloud migration often takes a long time, leads to loss of control of, and visibility into, the infrastructure and creates newfound performance challenges.

It’s true that technologies like Azure ExpressRoute and AWS Direct Connect can help, but these may not cover all users or locations. Luckily, SteelHead can help, offering up to 33x SaaS acceleration and 97 percent SaaS and IaaS bandwidth reduction.

Proof point: One Riverbed customer that successfully overcame cloud-migration hurdles was the Sub-Zero Group. Facing performance woes, its IT team needed to consolidate infrastructure from seven far-flung locations into a single datacenter, as well as speed up delivery of SaaS applications. To this end they deployed a mix of physical and virtual SteelHeads. The result? A 50 percent reduced WAN traffic, 500 percent faster Microsoft Office 365 file operations, slashed troubleshooting times, and a good base for future improvements. The full case study is here.

#4. Saving on WAN bandwidth

Bandwidth reduction, one of SteelHead WAN optimization's original pillars, remains as potent as ever, particularly for organizations that must replicate backup data or share large files. SteelHead's bandwidth reduction can reduce network load by up to 95 percent, speeding data transfer by up to 100 times.

Annual IT infrastructure cost reductions: Riverbed SteelHead

Proof point: A large-scale example of SteelHead in action comes from GHD, which employs 8,500 people across more than 200 offices on five continents. Running more than 3,000 applications, GHD's ability to collaborate between offices was hampered by network performance issues. Worse, a previous attempted solution corrupted data. Read the case study for the full details of how GHD implemented SteelHead to successfully unite its far-flung workforce and reduce 19-minute international file transfers to 19 seconds.

#5. Application visibility

The move to hybrid, often cloud-based infrastructures wreaks havoc with IT's ability to monitor infrastructure performance and user experience. Fortunately, every SteelHead can act as a data probe and pass flow data to Riverbed SteelCentral analytic solutions. That helps give IT 20/20 vision into every aspect of the infrastructure.

Proof point: A TechValidate survey found that SteelHead delivered cost savings by reducing mean time to resolution (MTTR) by over two times in 79 percent of deployments. (Source: TechValidate. TVID: FFB-228-288)

SteelHead: More relevant than ever

As the digital transformation movement continues to gain steam, SteelHead will be there to accelerate performance, provide visibility, and help smooth over the many hurdles that come in adopting today's new technologies. SteelHead is more relevant than ever, so find out more by contacting Riverbed sales for information about the benefits of SteelHead in your organization.

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