Riverbed and Akamai have teamed up on a new product, the Steelhead Cloud Accelerator, that combines Akamai’s Internet optimization technology and Riverbed's wide area network (WAN) optimization technology to deliver end-to-end performance gains for software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications.
The joint venture pairs Riverbed (RVBD), a company that optimizes applications on the private WAN with a historical focus on content consumers, and Akamai (AKAM), which optimizes the Internet with a historical focus on content producers.
By combining the capabilities of Riverbed WAN optimization technology and the Akamai Intelligent Platform, the companies will target the performance issues introduced by hybrid cloud networks, especially for organizations that need to reduce traffic on backhaul links, and eliminate the need for bandwidth upgrades.
Performance is a particular issue for the SaaS market, which is growing within enterprises of all sizes, with Forrester Research estimating the SaaS market to reach more than $100 billion by 2017.
Steelhead Cloud Accelerator
As a subscription-based add-on to existing Steelhead appliance deployments, the cloud accelerator does not require any changes to the SaaS provider's infrastructure, regardless of where the application or end users are located, across any combination of physical, virtual and cloud infrastructures, the companies said. Optimization for applications like Google Apps, Microsoft Office365 or Salesforce can be achieved through the jointly developed solution by deploying an instance of the Steelhead Cloud Accelerator per application.
"In order to unlock the cost savings promised by cloud services, organizations are seeking ways to make IT infrastructure more elastic by using multiple, geographically dispersed cloud deployments," said Melanie Posey, Research VP at IDC. "Bandwidth constraints and network latency impact IT infrastructure performance regardless of location - private data centers or public cloud data centers. The Steelhead Cloud Accelerator solution offers organizations using hybrid cloud networks the same level of accelerated application performance previously possible only in the public Internet with Akamai or in private cloud environments with Riverbed."
The joint Riverbed and Akamai solution is able to route around congestion points on the Internet and take a path to the SaaS provider that was in the teens of hops down to just one. Akamai mitigates packet loss on the link and works around any peering issues, network outages and BGP issues. In storage technology terms, it is like RAID for the internet, assuring the business that their SaaS applications will be available to all users, all of the time. Using Akamai's Edge delivery platform and SureRoute to optimize routing and TCP a connection to Office365 from Cambridge to Chicago that previously took numerous hops and 85 ms, would now take one hop and 25 ms.
As a global case study for the joint Riverbed and Akamai solution Schneider Electric realized tremendous gains in using the Steelhead Cloud Accelerator.
"As a global specialist in energy management with operations in more than 100 countries, we have more than 16,000 users that access Salesforce.com, including those employees that process orders and handle customer service," said Lionel Marie, Lead Architect for Global WAN Acceleration at Schneider Electric. "Backhaul Internet connections that route users across the private WAN before accessing the public Internet introduces additional distance, latency and consumes additional bandwidth, making accessing Salesforce.com problematic.
"Overcoming the performance challenges was critical for us to effectively process customer orders and provide excellent customer service," Marie continued. "We deployed Steelhead Cloud Accelerator to evaluate the solution from Paris and backhauled to the Salesforce.com data center in the U.S. and achieved 80 percent data reduction while utilizing 6 times less bandwidth. The test results are really encouraging and demonstrate that the joint solution from Akamai and Riverbed can avoid a costly bandwidth upgrade and address the performance challenges we are encountering."
Steelhead Cloud accelerator will initially support Google Apps, Salesforce.com and Microsoft Office 365 with an expected general release in the first quarter of 2012.