WAN optimization vendor Riverbed is upgrading its portfolio this week with the release of RiOS 6.1, the next iteration of its optimization system software that powers its suite of WAN optimization appliances.
Riverbed's new release comes as the market for network acceleration and optimization continues to remain very competitive with multiple vendors including Blue Coat (NASDAQ: BCSI), Cisco (NASDAQ: CSCO) and Citrix (NASDAQ: CTXS) all providing rival solutions.
In the RiOS 6.1 release, Riverbed (NASDAQ: RVBD) is enhancing its acceleration capabilities for the cloud, including some improvements for specific EMC (NYSE: EMC) and Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) applications.
"The most visible place for IT is with the end-user application, so with this release we focused our attention on some of the most widely used enterprise applications," Joe Ghory, a product marketing manager at Riverbed, told InternetNews.com.
Specifically, Ghory noted that RiOS 6.1 is providing users with new offerings geared for users of Lotus Notes, Microsoft Sharepoint and Microsoft Exchange.
"For LotusNotes 8 and Exchange 2010, we're providing both network- and application-level optimizations," Ghory said.
He noted that users of Microsoft's Exchange 2003 and 2007 often aren't prepared for the network impact of Exchange 2010, which provides encryption by default. The additional encryption expands the bandwidth utilization of Exchange.
Ghory said that RiOS 6.1 will accelerate both the encrypted and unencrypted aspects of Exchange.
For Microsoft Sharepoint, RiOS 6.1 is also providing benefits. Thanks to Riverbed's relationship with Microsoft, RiOS 6.1 now understands how Sharepoint operates as an application over HTTP and HTTPs, Ghory explained
"We can now speed the page refresh times in Sharepoint, improving performance better than it is natively by 50 percent," he said.
Riverbed is also taking aim at accelerating Microsoft's cloud-based online software. Ghory noted that all of the same performance challenges that Sharepoint and Exchange face in on-premise deployments are still present in the cloud.
Riverbed is also addressing storage acceleration in RiOS 6.1 with enhanced acceleration capabilities for EMC's Symmetrix V-MAX and DMX. Previous versions of RiOS, including RiOS 6, provided EMC acceleration capabilities, but Ghory said there was room for improvement.
"We found that by being able to improve optimizations across Fibre channel over IP gateways we could improve the throughput time and transmission," he explained.
Enterprises sometimes need to engage with EMC professional services in order to configure storage to work with Riverbed. To that end, RiOS 6.1 now provides the capability to automatically configure V-MAX and DMX systems to take full advantage of everything that Riverbed has developed.
There is also a class of applications that require multiple calls to network directory assets, which can also be a drain on application performance. In RiOS 6.1, Riverbed is including application directory acceleration capabilities that speed both the startup and usage of directory intensive applications.
From a competitive perspective, rival WAN optimization vendor Blue Coat is also delivering application-specific acceleration capabilities.
Chris Webber, a product marketing manager with Blue Coat, told InternetNews.com that the company's ProxySG accelerates Exchange 2003, 2007 and 2010, as well as Sharepoint and Microsoft Online. He added that Blue Coat not only accelerates EMC Symmetrix Remote Data Facility (SRDF), but that Blue Coat is also part of the EMC Velocity Technology & ISV Partner Program.
"Blue Coat has long been focused on optimizing all internal and external applications delivered via HTTP/S, and it appears that with the introduction of a solution for Microsoft Online, Riverbed is beginning to embrace that trend as well," Webber said.