I just spent an afternoon with Riverbed and Akamai in Cambridge MA, listening to how some of the best and brightest from their respective fields have teamed up to jointly develop a solution to accelerate SaaS traffic over the internet. They refer to their joint solution as the Steelhead Cloud Accelerator and the initial results are impressive. An oversubscribed beta program, testimonials from users wanting to deploy enterprise-wide before it was GA, and an end-user that flew over from Norway to talk about his results are all indications that they may be on to something here.
The Steelhead Cloud Accelerator combines Riverbed's Steelhead wide area network (WAN) optimization technology, (both physical and virtual appliances with RIOS operating software) with Akamai's internet optimization technology (more than 100,000 servers, almost two thousand points of presence (POPs), and very close proximity to most major SaaS vendor data centers, to seamlessly optimize and accelerate connectivity for SaaS applications. The Steelhead Cloud Accelerator currently supports Salesforce.com, Microsoft Office 365, and Google Apps with more to follow as demand dictates.
Given that ESG research continues to show increased use of SaaS applications in the enterprise-up 12% over last year-there should be a lot of interest in the Steelhead Cloud Accelerator. With initial users indicating anywhere from 5 to over 200 times improvement in the time to download or access files, this is the kind of performance enhancement that could ultimately be the difference between success or failure when rolling out an enterprise-wide multi-million dollar SaaS application. Additionally, by connecting ROBOs directly to the SaaS provider over the internet, organizations can dramatically reduce the amount of "back haul" internet traffic over the private WAN. This can help improve the performance of all remaining applications and help keep WAN costs in check.
Organizations have leveraged WAN optimization solutions from Riverbed to accelerate centralized applications like SharePoint, e-mail and others to remote locations over private links for years. During the same period, they have relied on Akamai for optimized internet traffic. Now they can leverage the best of both technologies to ensure optimized internet connections to accelerate SaaS applications. The Steelhead Cloud Accelerator is generally available now.
You can read Bob's other blog entries at Data Center Continuum.