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Riverbed Granite storage box gets Fibre Channel support

Riverbed Granite now supports Fibre Channel and has higher-capacity Steelhead EX WAN-optimization boxes at remote offices to reside on.

Riverbed Technology Inc. today added Fibre Channel support for its Core Granite software that manages remote-office storage and servers, and launched a new Steelhead WAN optimization appliance with more capacity and throughput than its previous remote-office devices.

Riverbed Granite launched last year with iSCSI support. The goal of Riverbed Granite is to consolidate and optimize block-level data traffic to the data center, allowing customers to back up at the data center instead of in branch offices. It presents itself as a target to applications and uses predictive algorithms to determine which blocks to deliver to the remote office from the data center in a nonsequential order.

Granite 2.5 software adds Fibre Channel (FC) support for the virtual Granite Core. Granite is sold as a standalone product or software module on a Steelhead EX appliance. The new Steelhead EX 1360 holds 10 terabytes, compared with 4 TB on the Steelhead EX 1260 platform already on the market.

Eric Carter, Riverbed's director of product marketing, said Riverbed added FC support because most SANs are still Fibre Channel and nearly 70% of enterprises still use the FC protocol. The Riverbed Granite appliance in the remote office runs on a VMware vSphere host, and there is a conversion process between the iSCSI interface and FC SAN in the data center via a virtual Granite Core device.

"We now can open opportunities to the Fibre Channel part of the market," Carter said.

Bob Laliberte, a senior analyst at Milford, Mass.-based Enterprise Strategy Group, said FC support makes Riverbed Granite a better data center play.

"This will be most helpful in the data center, where FC is more prevalent and providing additional protocol support will help to expand the market," Laliberte said. "At the very least, it removes a sales objection from the table for applications supported by FC. There is probably not a great deal of FC used in remote locations -- perhaps in a few of the bigger sites only."

Riverbed has also improved its snapshot scheduler for backup applications in the Granite 2.5, with an interface for a single point of management for scheduling hourly, daily or weekly application snapshots. The snapshots are executed in the branch office but captured in the data center. Previously, each Granite instance needed to be timed for its snapshots. Riverbed also integrated scripting for pre-backups and post-backups, eliminating the need for a professional service person to do the task on-site.

Riverbed Granite is best suited for write-intensive applications with workloads that have low data redundancy and custom applications that use uncommon protocols.

The Steelhead EX 1360 has an eight-core CPU, compared with the six-core CPU Steelhead EX 1260. The EX 1360G is a dedicated Granite appliance; the EX 1360L has 50 Mbps throughput and supports 4,500 connections, while the EX1360M runs at 100 Mbps and handles 6,000 connections. Riverbed is not expected to phase out the Steelhead EX 1260, which has four physical models supporting between 10 Mbps and 500 Mbps and handles between 900 and 6,000 connections.

Riverbed would not disclose pricing for the Steelhead EX 1360 and Granite 2.5, but said they will be available in the third quarter.

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