Riverbed Steelhead Review

The data reduction was fantastic, saved the company I was working for at the time a lot of time and money in upgrading circuits.


What is most valuable?

The data reduction was fantastic, saved the company I was working for at the time a lot of time and money in upgrading circuits.

Management of the device is simple, but has all the technical aspects of a powerful appliance.

How has it helped my organization?

Enabled the company I was working for then the opportunity to centralise file storage, which reduced the cost of Windows server licenses by a massive amount. It also meant that collaboration across branch offices was vastly improved, as it was possible for documents to be stored centrally and open the documents as fast as if they were local... even very large technical drawings.

What needs improvement?

The version of RIOS that I used was very good, and I can't think of anything that needed major improvement at the time. We were using most of the functionality of the appliances, including Citrix optimizations, and it was all very good.

For how long have I used the solution?

It was a few years ago that I was using it, but I was using it for about 5 years

What was my experience with deployment of the solution?

None, the performance increase was straight away, the second and subsequent time of opening any document was markedly faster than the first, once the users understood this, it wasn't a problem. Also we learnt to 'pre-warm' the box before deployment, meaning that we could get round the 'first opening delay' somewhat.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

These boxes were always up, very stable, and even upgrades were smooth. I can't think of an instance when the appliance wasn't doing it's job as expected.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

None, the licenses were easy to deploy to upgrade and new appliances were just a drop in replacement. We scaled this up from an initial PoC to a fully fledged production appliance without any issues.

How are customer service and technical support?

Customer Service:

We were with Teneo, and their customer service department was very good, although we dealt mainly with the sales and technical teams.

Technical Support:

Teneos knowledge in house was very good, both the sales force and technical support were brilliant, and when they couldn't deal with it they didn't have a problem referring it direct to Riverbed.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

No, we went from bare WAN connections to Steelheads, we were running out of capacity on the WAN connections, users were complaining and we needed to centralise their data, we needed to either upgrade or optimize.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup was very straight forward, we followed the initial advice of Teneo to start with and then went back and optimized to our own policy over time, as we found better ways of optimizing certain traffic.

What about the implementation team?

Through a vendor initially (Teneo), and then continued deployment in house once we were familiar. Teneos knowledge was excellent and they were extremely helpful.

What was our ROI?

It was very good, we ended up getting about 3x the average bandwidth increase (up to 10x at peak), and to replace with the equivalent IPClear circuits at the time would have meant increasing a majority of lines from 2Mb->5-10Mb. Back when we implemented it this would have run into the realms of about £50,000 plus running costs annually, so over the first year we easily saved that money.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

Don't be scared of the pricing, they seem expensive, but in reality the performance of these appliances is astounding. Even a circuit of the equivalent speed would not be as fast due to Riverbeds ability to optimize TCP windows to get 90%+ utilization of a circuit. Licensing was a little confusing when we purchased it, so take advise of what you really need before jumping in and purchasing.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We did look at Cisco WAAS at the time, but it was very early technology, and I didn't have confidence in it. We also looked at BlueCoat, but it didn't offer the full acceleration of all the applications that we were after.

What other advice do I have?

Riverbed Steelhead is a brilliant concept, and well executed appliance. It really does do it's job very well and worth the investment.

**Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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