Stellar Steelhead WAN accelerator reduces network wait time
Riverbed adds Proxy File Service, Microsoft SQL performance enhancementFollow @infoworld
One of the Steelhead 3010's best new features is the PFS (Proxy File Service). PFS provides continuous access to files located at the datacenter in the event of WAN failure, so it's invaluable for business continuity.
Of all Steelhead services, PFS takes the most time and planning to set up: The Steelhead appliance has to be a member of the AD (Active Directory) domain, and share paths must be created in Steelhead's management console. I was able to insert my 3010 into AD and create a couple of shares without too much trouble -- but make sure the Steelhead appliance's clock and your domain controller's clock are synchronized to avoid communication problems.
When admins create the shares, they choose between two distinct modes of operation: local and broadcast. Local mode places the authoritative copy of the files on the Steelhead appliance; broadcast mode leaves the authoritative copy on the file server. When the WAN link fails, PFS local shares allow full read/write access, whereas broadcast shares provide only read-only access. When the WAN comes back up, changes made to the PFS local share are synchronized back to the datacenter.
The use of PFS requires that a special application be installed on the file server being proxied. The RCU (Riverbed Copy Utility) synchronizes files between the datacenter and the Steelhead appliance in both PFS modes, and RCU can also be used to pre-populate files into the remote Steelhead cache. It can push out the files either when a change is made to the watched directory or as a scheduled task.
The reporting engine got a substantial makeover in Version 2.1.2 of the Steelhead software as well. The Steelhead 3010 now sports a decent selection of graphical and statistical reports.
One report that I used quite a bit was the Traffic Summary. It provides, at a glance, a pie chart showing overall traffic through the appliance and a line chart displaying each traffic type as a percentage of the overall traffic. Other reports are just as useful and easy to read. IT can apply filters to the reports to view the information in various ways. Unfortunately, there is no way to create and save a customized report.
Just keeps on truckin'
Riverbed's Steelhead 3010 appliance continues to blow me away with its caching and optimization capabilities. The only way to truly appreciate how well it handles long fat links is to get a pair and try them out: With my Shunra Virtual Enterprise, I created some really dirty, nasty WANs; each time, the Steelhead handled the traffic thrown its way.
The graphical reports are a welcome addition, and the Proxy File Service is a good step toward handling disconnected situations. All in all, it's a WAN acceleration winner.