Last year the company added Azure support to its SteelFusion platform through Microsoft StorSimple — this is Microsoft’s hybrid cloud storage play that manages storage tasks between on-premises devices and Azure cloud storage.
Today’s announcement builds on Riverbed’s partnership with Microsoft.
While the existing SteelFusion platform uses VMware’s vSphere hypervisor, the new SteelFusion Azure-Ready Edge uses Microsoft’s Hyper-V as the virtualization engine. This gives remote locations direct access to the Azure cloud for use as a primary storage tier and allows data to be provisioned and recovered directly from Azure.
By “edge,” Riverbed means “the edge of where business is getting done,” said Alison Hubbard, senior director of product marketing at Riverbed. “It can be a retail store, an oil rig, an Army platoon. Anywhere workers get their jobs done and transactions need to be made.”
The business benefits of a hybrid cloud approach or using cloud storage as a primary data center don’t typically reach these remote locations, she added.
The new Azure-Ready Edge, being previewed at the Microsoft Ignite Conference this week, “ultimately realizes that agility, that elasticity, those cost savings by leveraging the power of the cloud at any location business is getting done,” Hubbard said. The product will be generally available in the first half of 2018.
The technology is based on the SteelFusion platform, which has two components. The SteelFusion Edge is a dedicated appliance or SteelFusion software installed on commodity hardware that integrates server, storage, network, and virtualization to run local remote office/branch office applications.
The second component is the SteelFusion Core. This is a storage delivery controller that interfaces with storage arrays in the on-premises data center or public cloud-based storage.
“With Azure-Ready Edge, the SteelFusion Core is in the Azure cloud,” Hubbard said. “We are able to extend network services from the cloud out to the edge and all remote locations with a minimal infrastructure footprint. It centralizes all of the operations for IT.”
Hubbard said many existing SteelFusion customers want to participate in the company’s upcoming early access program for the new Azure version. She won’t name names, but added “one of the most well-known fast food brands is looking specifically at this solution to run their business.”
And while Microsoft’s Azure may be the first public cloud storage option offered via Riverbed’s software-defined edge platform, an Amazon Web Services version will soon follow.
“We consciously decided because of the input from our customers and the relationship Riverbed has with Microsoft that we would start our cloud-to-edge solution with Microsoft,” Hubbard said. “As soon as that officially GAs, on the heels of that we’re working with AWS.
SteelFusion already supports AWS Storage Gateway. A specific AWS-Ready Edge product “is just a matter of scheduling and strategies,” added Parimal Puranik, director of product management at Riverbed. “There are no technology reasons why we aren’t doing an AWS solution now.”