January 17, 2005
An IT Appliance that Makes a Difference
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Welcome to AECWeekly! I did not ask why this technology company is named Riverbed, but it's fitting that its flagship product is called Steelhead, after the fish. My guess is that steelheads are good networkers? Riverbed fills a need for companies who have traditionally used compression or caching appliances to try and gain greater throughput on networks. Find out about it in this week's Industry News.
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An IT Appliance that Makes a Difference
By Susan Smith
I did not ask why this technology company is named Riverbed, but it's fitting that its flagship product is called Steelhead, after the fish. My guess is that steelheads are good networkers?
It's always a pleasure to write about a product that really makes a significant difference in a company's productivity right away. Most installations don't offer an appreciable ROI for years out, but Riverbed's Steelhead Appliance may be a bit different. You plug it in and five minutes later it's ready to go.
Riverbed Technology is a two and a half year old startup that began shipping their first products in May of 2004. The IT product discussed here is Riverbed Steelhead appliance, an appliance that is really a special purpose server deployed between headquarters and a remote office over the wide area network (WAN).
"Up to now, employees in different offices were not able to share large files over large distances," explained Alan Saldich, VP of product marketing for Riverbed. "It optimizes traffic over the WAN, like file serving, email, FTP and Web applications and allows employees who work in different offices collaborate more efficiently."
Riverbed fills a need for companies who have traditionally used compression or caching appliances to try and gain greater throughput on networks. Saldich reports 20 or 30 AEC customers who have embraced Riverbed's technology right away, and a hundred or more in other segments such as oil and gas, manufacturing and government.
For architectural firms, Riverbed solves specific problems. Gensler is their most prominent AEC customer at this point, with Steelhead appliances deployed at 27 sites around the world.
"The Steelhead appliances make sharing of large AutoCAD files between architects much quicker. We report 70 times throughput improvement which means that a file that used to take an hour to send across the network, now takes seconds," said Bruce Bartolf, principal and CTO, of Gensler. "It makes a difference how you share and collaborate data with somebody."
maintain redundant sets of data and run the risk of data inconsistencies.
Steelhead appliances also make possible what Gensler calls the 'serverless office,' or the 'office in a box.' "We make the WAN perform so much like a LAN so we aren't required to put in any local file servers or data storage structure," Bartolff said. "If we open a new office in Las Vegas, for example, the architects can actually work off of pre-existing infrastructure in San Francisco, and save a lot of infrastructure costs."
Currently Riverbed's deployments are all within companies, yet if Gensler were working with Bechtel for example, both companies would need to have a Steelhead appliance.
data and just maintain one centralized file sharer that everybody on the project works from. One set of drawings.."
Bandwidth and Latency - How Steelhead Works
What makes the Steelhead different is that it stores all TCP traffic on the appliance so everything that goes over the internet connection or private network is chopped up into very small segments of data, for example, 100 bytes.
amount of data."
In this way the Steelhead Appliance is not a file level difference comparison which is what most other products like this are. Most systems look at a file and determine if it is a file they already have by looking at filename, date, etc.
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-- Susan Smith, AECCafe.com Managing Editor.
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