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Steelhead OverviewUNIXBusinessApplication

Steelhead is #4 ranked solution in top WAN Optimization tools and #15 ranked solution in top WAN Edge tools. IT Central Station users give Steelhead an average rating of 8 out of 10. Steelhead is most commonly compared to WAAS:Steelhead vs WAAS. The top industry researching this solution are professionals from a comms service provider, accounting for 27% of all views.
What is Steelhead?

Riverbed SteelHead CX is the industry's #1 WAN optimization solution. SteelHead CX is proven to dramatically speed up the performance of applications anywhere in the organization while delivering the best end-user experience even under sub optimal network conditions. Reduce bandwidth utilization by up to 95%, deferring costly network bandwidth upgrades. Increase performance by up to 100x for on-premises applications.

Steelhead was previously known as RIverbed Steelhead.

Buyer's Guide

Download the WAN Optimization Buyer's Guide including reviews and more. Updated: November 2021

Steelhead Customers

ElAraby, SFK Leblanc, Bobst Group, Northwest Pipe Company, Halkbank, Tradebridge, EFG Hermes

Steelhead Video

Pricing Advice

What users are saying about Steelhead pricing:
  • "The solution is expensive and the service contacts are costly too. The cost of the device makes the value proposition borderline acceptable for us. The service contract fees we pay is approximately $30,000 annually."

Steelhead Reviews

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AkhileshMishra
Senior Technical Consultant at a tech services company with 501-1,000 employees
Reseller
Top 20
Scalable Data Referencing provides LAN-like speed over WAN

Pros and Cons

  • "TCP optimization... caches a particular TCP connection and the next time a user uses that connection he will reach the destination easily."
  • "Application response time and network performance could be improved."

What is our primary use case?

You should buy SteelHead for WAN optimization because it delivers more. WAN optimization is the process of increasing data throughput and improving the network and application performance over the WAN. This is what Riverbed SteelHead helps with. If you face a latency issue or slow application performance, go for this solution.

What is most valuable?

The first feature that is valuable is SDR, Scalable Data Referencing. Suppose you have two offices, one based in India and the other one is in the U.S., which is where the data center is. If an engineer is working from India and accessing an application from there, downloading or uploading files or folders over the file server or other applications, SDR will cache the data on the SteelHead device itself. The second time, he won't need to go via the WAN. He will be able to download the file locally. He will feel he is getting LAN-like speed over the WAN.

The second valuable feature is the compression.

The third valuable feature is the TCP optimization. Every time protocols are communicating with each other, every time they establish a connection, three is a three-way handshake. For UDP there is no handshaking because it is connection-less. But TCP does the three-way handshake before delivering any information to the application. The optimization feature caches a particular TCP connection and the next time a user uses that connection he will reach the destination easily.

What needs improvement?

Application response time and network performance could be improved.

Allot, an Israel-based organization, is offering DDoS attack prevention, not mitigation but prevention; threat response. If Riverbed would offer DDoS or IPS-type stuff, that would be great. Because we are deploying Riverbed in inline mode, we can easily take advantage of these kinds of features.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been working with Riverbed SteelHead for more than 15 years. I have a lot of experience with it. I have implemented it many times, both on-prem and in the cloud, around the world.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It is very stable. If you check the industry reviews, you will see that it is number-one for WAN optimization.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

It is easily scalable. I have implemented it in SMBs and in enterprise-level companies.

How are customer service and technical support?

Overall, Riverbed provides satisfactory support.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup is very straightforward. It is not complex. It is a very simple device. It is like an L2 device, and you can easily install it into a network. It can be deployed in inline mode, but there are some methods for deploying this appliance into a network. The first is the physical, meaning inline mode. The second is virtual. And the third is the server-side, where you can deploy this device with the switch nearest to the server, and the client-side is deployed in in-line mode.

Every SteelHead deployment always involves deploying two appliances. One appliance on its own will not work because SteelHead always works in pairs. If your organization has five branch offices, and one is the data center, you will need to deploy a SteelHead in each branch office to get the benefit of WAN optimization. 

The number of people needed for deployment depends on how far apart the locations are. If the locations are not very far apart, one person can fully deploy the product. If there are distant remote locations, you will need a person in each location.

The deployment time is three to four hours, maximum. It's very easy to install. You only need to run some commands, then go to the UI and do some configuration.

What other advice do I have?

I would 100 percent advise others to implement this product. When potential customers ask us why they should buy SteelHead instead of just increasing their bandwidth from 10 Mbps to 20 Mbps, we tell them that doing so does not eliminate protocol chattiness. The reason behind this is that the TCP three-way handshake will happen at 10 Mbps and at 20 Mbps as well. If you have 20 applications in your environment and your users are accessing those applications, there is a lot of protocol chattiness going on. Upgrading bandwidth will not eliminate it. If you buy SteelHead, you can eliminate the protocol chattiness, and all the different kinds of handshaking. 

Every protocol is very chatty. CIFS, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, applications that are running on port 445, use a protocol that is very chatty as well.

Also, Riverbed recently started offering SD-WAN. The SteelConnect appliance delivers SD-WAN service and can easily provide routing, application visibility, security services, and WAN optimization. Riverbed has also started delivering a next-generation firewall which is completely an application firewall.

Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Reseller/Distributor.
JO
Network Support Engineer at a government with 201-500 employees
Real User
Top 5Leaderboard
Easy to install, reliable, and offers responsive technical support

Pros and Cons

  • "It is very easy to install the solution."
  • "The product should offer more integration capabilities."

What is our primary use case?

We primarily use the solution for the optimization of our WAN.

What is most valuable?

The solution has been very good since the beginning. It is quite reliable. 

It is very easy to install the solution. 

Technical support has been very good.

What needs improvement?

We would like the solution to be less expensive.

If the solution was more secure, that would be ideal.

The product should offer more integration capabilities. 

For how long have I used the solution?

I've been using the solution for more than ten years at this point. It's been about a decade or more. I've used it for a long time. 

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The solution has been very stable. There are no bugs or glitches and it doesn't crash or freeze. It's a reliable product.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Currently what we have in the system can not support the software-defined networks, so I won't say it's scalable. However, newer iterations might be.

We currently have about 2,000 users on the solution.

How are customer service and technical support?

We've dealt with technical support in the past and they have been okay. We're satisfied with how helpful and responsive they have been overall. 

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup is not difficult. It's very simple and quite straightforward. A company shouldn't have trouble setting it up.

When the product was originally installed, it was not the lead. Therefore, I cannot speak to how long the deployment itself took.

We only have just a few people on staff that really manage the infrastructure at the moment. We don't need a big team.

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

The cost of the product is too high. We would like it to be lower. 

We pay a yearly licensing fee.

What other advice do I have?

We are a customer and an end-user. We don't have a business relationship with the company itself. 

We are still using the CX 5070 across our sites. We have one in the system.

I'd rate the solution at an eight out of ten. We've been very pleased with the solution and its capabilities over the years. 

I would recommend the product to others.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

On-premises
Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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Djurre Woudstra
Senior Network Engineer at a legal firm with 201-500 employees
Real User
Top 20
User friendly, stable, and good exchange replication

Pros and Cons

  • "I find the most valuable to be the compression and exchange replication."
  • "They should include a network switch in a future release."

What is our primary use case?

We use the solution to optimize traffic between our vastly geographically dispersed offices.

What is most valuable?

I find the most valuable to be the compression and exchange replication. It is very useful, user friendly, and the documentation manuals are helpful.

What needs improvement?

They should include a network switch in a future release.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using this solution for 15 years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The stability has been good.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

The scalability is not the best. If you find that you have outgrown the capacity of your appliance you are forced to repurchase the license and the appliance with very little discount even if your appliance is still under contract.

How are customer service and technical support?

The customer service is quite professional and helpful.

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

When I first purchased this solution it was the first of its kind. There was no other option.

How was the initial setup?

I have 15 years of experience with this product. When I first did the install it was hard, but now it is very easy.

What about the implementation team?

I did the deployment myself and do the maintenance. It does not take very long.

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

The solution is expensive and the service contacts are costly too. The cost of the device makes the value proposition borderline acceptable for us. The service contract fees we pay is approximately $30,000 annually.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We are approximately midway to the life cycle of our current products and I do not think I will be rebuying Riverbed just because of the cost. Silver Peak is one of the other solutions we have been looking at, carries a lower cost, and has some additional options such as SD-WAN.

What other advice do I have?

I would advise others to do tests and make sure they really need the product before purchasing it because it is expensive.

I rateRiverbed Steelhead a seven out of ten.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

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