Riverbed held a roundtable discussion about the company (and some other topics) with journalists last night at Boston’s Oceanaire restaurant in Government Center. I sat next to Eric Wolford, Riverbed’s SVP of marketing and business development, and he opened a conversation by asking me “What’s hot?”
“Well,” I told him, “these days I sometimes feel like I’m writing for SearchSSD.com rather than SearchStorage.com.” I didn’t expect Riverbed to be getting into the solid-state disk game, but Wolford said there’s probably a place for SSDs in at least some of its WAN optimization products, too.
Wolford said some large Riverbed customers use Steelhead devices on both sides of the wire for replication. At extremely high bandwidth (OC12 and above), Wolford said SSDs could help keep up when large volumes of data hit the devices’ disks simultaneously.
“With large data center-to-data center replication, they sometimes need so many spindles there’s an opportunity for solid-state storage,” he said.
But he doesn’t see SSDs replacing spinning disk systems, for Riverbed or the industry at large. “It’ll give us a new high end,” he said. And, he added, “an enormous amount of our business is at the T1 level and there’s really no opportunity for it there.”
Wolford also gave me an update on the Atlas primary storage dedupe product Riverbed was originally going to ship this year but recently pushed out until 2010.
“We got critical feedback from alpha customers where they want to deploy [Atlas], but don’t want dependency on the Steelhead appliance.” Wolford said. So Riverbed is working on bundling the Steelhead functionality into the Atlas product itself.
Atlas will sit out of band, he said, “to the side” of the array and perform post-process dedupe. Wolford says customers are hot for primary storage data reduction, but most vendors still can’t deliver it at speeds fast enough for primary storage. “If the device is out of the path of hot data, the performance burden isn’t as extensive,” he said.