Riverbed Debuts Granite for the Edge

Riverbed (NASDAQ:RVBD) wants to help enterprises consolidate their operations without duplicating much between the edge of the network and the data center. To that end, the networking vendor is introducing a new architectural approach called, Edge Virtual Server Infrastructure (edge-VSI). Edge-VSI is powered by a new hardware series called Granite, as well as a new set of Steelhead WAN optimization appliances that can run Granite as a virtual service.

Miles Kelly, senior director of product marketing at Riverbed explained to InternetNews.com that with Granite, an enterprise can access data that resides in a data center as though it were local.

“Edge-VSI is a data center, centric view of the world where we’re helping more organizations achieve their goal of having everything live in the data center,” Kelly said. “Edge-VSI is analogous to what VDI (virtual desktop infrastructure) did for desktops.”

Kelly noted that with VDI, desktops live in the data center and such branches don’t need to keep everything on-site. With the Edge-VSI approach, branch storage all resides in the data center and is then projected out to the branch.

Riverbed’s existing Steelhead device already provides WAN optimization capabilities for Microsoft CIFs file sharing capabilities. According to Kelly, the new Edge-VSI approach goes a step further.

“What Steelhead does with CIF based optimization is the ability to handle and anticipate how the CIF protocol works for a file open or save request, that all happens up at the application level,” Kelly said. “What we’re adding with Granite Edge-VSI, is providing optimization at the block level.”

Steelhead appliances don’t do the block level optimization on their own. The Granite service can be run on a new class of Steelhead appliances called, Steelhead EX. The EX runs something that Riverbed now calls the Virtual Services Platform (VSP), and was formerly known as the Riverbed Services Platform (RSP). RSP was introduced by Riverbed back in 2008 as a way to provide additional services to branch locations. According to Kelly, with the new VSP, there are now more memory resources available in the platform, than had been available when it was called RSP.

While the Riverbed Steelhead EX is a new device, it will run the current RiOS (Riverbed Operating System) 7.0 release that was announced at the end of 2011.

In addition to the Steelhead EX, there is also a standalone Granite Edge appliance, for deployments and use-cases where a Steelhead EX cannot be deployed in the branch locations. Whether a Steelhead EX or Granite Edge is used, both deployments will also require a second device called the Granite Core to be deployed in the data center itself.

“The Granite Core is a dedicated appliance that mounts the storage array in the data center,” Kelly said.

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist

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