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Converged Infrastructure in the Branch: Riverbed Granite Becomes SteelFusion

With today's rebranding of Riverbed Granite as SteelFusion, Riverbed is prodding all branch IT owners (and vested users) to step up and consider what branch IT should ideally look like. Instead of a disparate package of network optimization, remote servers and storage arrays, difficult if not foresworn data protection approaches, and independently maintained branch applications and IT support, simple converged SteelFusion edge appliances sit in the branch to provide local computing performance but work on "projected" data that is actually consolidated and protected back in the data center.

A big part of the unique magic in SteelFusion is that it enables branch locations to leverage enterprise storage actually located in the data center as if it were local high performance storage. Riverbed’s BlockStream functionality combines a sophisticated block-level prediction algorithm on the edge device that optimizes a local “authoritative” cache for accelerated block storage access. For writes, BlockStream provides an authoritative block-based write accelerator feature that uses asynchronous write-back. This effectively presents a “projected” copy of centralized storage out to any local users or applications as if it were locally hosted, providing local access and performance. In many cases SteelFusion can even “hide” short-term network issues due to this sophisticated caching, which lets the local clients continue to execute and then later updates the data center when it’s back online – a big benefit for branches with sketchy connectivity.

The more dusty, dangerous, unsupported, and insecure the branches, the more "pain" motivation there should be to realistically look at adopting SteelFusion. At the same time, having closely evaluated SteelFusion both in our validation lab and analytical research, we'd recommend looking at the large opportunity and upside here too. By converging infrastructure to this extent in the branch, which in this case reportedly is a straightforward and rewarding task, IT can better deliver superior local performance, realistically protect and secure corporate "edge" data, and lower remote branch OPEX tremendously. In our recent lab, we tested SteelFusion and found that it reduces the average time to provision branch services by 30x (from five hours to ten minutes) and recovery from branch outages by 96x (from 24 hours to 15 minutes).

Oh, and your end users will be much happier with IT, and just may be able to do more and better business in those forward locations.

The benefits are so compelling for distributed organizations that we actually recommend not waiting for any particular hardware refresh cycle to seriously look at SteelFusion. It can be challenging to consider re-tooling the branch architecture as a whole, and not as vertical stacks of IT domain level solutions, but we think the convergence (and Hyperconvergence) approaches have proven themselves in the data center and it's now time to extend that architectural thinking to the branch.

If you have any branch challenges, take a few minutes to look at our Riverbed SteelFusion Product Profile and the Riverbed SteelFusion Technology Validation Lab report posted on the Taneja Group site.

  • Premiered: 04/15/14
  • Author: Mike Matchett
Topic(s): Riverbed Branch Converged Infrastructure convergence Virtualization ROBO


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