Riverbed Virtual Steelhead Appliance Available

The virtual appliance concept I’ve found to be struggling with acceptance in certain circles.  Some managers have chosen to put their faith in the physical appliance itself and leaving this would be a step out of their comfort zone.  But what is an appliance?

Is it the hardware that makes the appliance?  Many appliances use off-the-shelf components like Intel/AMD CPUs and commodity disk and networking components.  In most cases, I would suggest that it is the code and not the hardware that makes the appliance.  So if you have a virtual infrastructure, why not run that code, as a virtual appliance?

That’s the premise behind the Virtual Appliance market where you can find all manner of appliances from companies like F5, Symantec, Mcafee , Trend Micro, Sun, Novell, Microsoft, Zimbra (recent EMC acquisition) and many more.

Riverbed just released in July a virtual appliance edition of their Steelhead (WAN Optimization) product.  It has all the features and capabilities of the “full appliance” but this is a pre-built appliance that can be quickly deployed onto an existing vSphere infrastructure.  The product page is here and you can see an overview in this PDF.  The Virtual Steelhead appliance requires VMware vSphere 4.0 or later.

Why would you want a virtual appliance rather than a physical one?  One reason is cost – why pay the high margins on the hardware in the appliance, when you can leverage your existing virtual infrastructure?  Second, there is DR.  How easy is it to provide DR for a physical appliance versus a VM?  Third is time to deploy.  Virtual appliances can be deployed much more rapidly than a physical appliance.

Riverbed is also doing quite a bit more around cloud computing.  Network World is reporting that later this year, Riverbed will launch a product called Cloud Steelhead which will be target at public cloud service providers who can use the product to accelerate WAN traffic for customers in their public clouds.

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