Silver Peak Systems tweaks replication acceleration, bypassing network

Silver Peak Systems' Velocity lets storage and backup admins connect replication optimization software to storage filers, bypassing IP network.

WAN acceleration vendor Silver Peak Systems today launched its Velocity program that enables storage managers to set up and manage array-based replication optimization without requiring changes on the network.

For Velocity, Silver Peak Systems tweaked its Virtual Acceleration Open Architecture (VXOA) software to make it work directly with midrange storage replication applications.

One benefit of WAN optimization is that it accelerates replication between sites by only sending changed blocks of data across the IP network. But WAN optimization devices connect to Ethernet networks, requiring networking admins to configure switches and routers and manage the optimization software.

"We've made a significant effort over the last few years to apply WAN optimization to storage administrators, but that has been hamstrung by the need to involve the networking department," Silver Peak Systems CEO Rick Tinsley said. "With the virtualized product and a few tricks we've developed, we think we have replication that storage people can do themselves."

Velocity is available today for NetApp SnapMirror deployments, and Tinsley said it will be extended to midrange storage arrays from EMC, Dell and Hitachi Data Systems by the end of the year.

Storage admins can use Velocity to accelerate remote replication on NetApp storage by loading a Silver Peak virtual appliance onto any server at each site they want to replicate between, and then point their filer at the server to begin optimization. Tinsley estimated it would take 15 minutes to load the virtual appliance and five minutes to configure the storage system.

Velocity carries a one-year subscription price of $15,995 for two VXOA licenses and full support.

Silver Peak has sold VXOA virtual appliances for more than a year. Customers can download the software and test it on their networks. Tinsley said virtual appliances make up about 20% of Silver Peak sales. But until now, customers who downloaded the software still had to configure networking devices to get it to work.

"This is a new way to deploy the software and redirect the traffic to it," Tinsley said about Velocity. "You don't have to get your peers in the networking department to twist nobs on the network.

Dave Bartoletti, a senior analyst at Cambridge, Mass.-based Forrester Research Inc., said Velocity builds on Silver Peak's focus on virtual appliances to make replication acceleration easier and for a broader audience.

"Instead of going in through the network group to buy physical WAN optimization devices, Silver Peak's approach is to say, 'Look at our virtual appliance, download it and test it.' It's not a huge investment up front," Bartoletti said. "You can get it set up and see if it works. In this case, the storage admin can do it himself. It opens up their target market into organizations where there can be friction trying to get the network team to deploy an appliance."

Bartoletti said he's not surprised Silver Peak started by supporting NetApp because "NetApp filers are everywhere, not only with large companies but in the midrange, too."

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