Riverbed SteelHead License

  • Technical Support
  • Last updated on: 16 Jan 2020


Riverbed SteelHead is the industry’s #1 optimization solution for accelerated delivery of any application across the Hybrid WAN. With SteelHead WAN optimization, you have better visibility into application and network performance and the end user experience. By combining network, application and end user performance metrics for deep visibility, IT can troubleshoot and fix problems before the user is impacted. Leveraging the solution’s application-aware approach, the most complete set of network services and path selection based on intent-based, business-driven, global policies with local enforcement, you also have significantly improved control to enable business agility.

Accelerate Performance

Deliver the best end user experience across the Hybrid WAN with accelerated performance of all applications

Problem resolution

Resolve problems faster with improved IT visibility into application, network and end user experience.

Complete IT control

Gain greater control with a simplified, wizard-like approach that translates business intent into application-centric service policies and automatically derives all possible network path possibilities based on availability.

Data protection

Secure all traffic across Hybrid WANs between SteelHeads for Private (MPLS) and Internet Links with standards-based encryption for added security and regulatory compliance.

SteelHead for Any Environment and Organization:

SteelHead Appliances

Accelerate application performance and data transfer over the WAN, overcoming bandwidth and geographical limitations to improve productivity and enable global collaboration.

  • Scalable for the deployment needs of any size
  • Riverbed Granite and VSP capable for full branch office consolidation
  • Deploy in minutes without changes to the existing IT infrastructure
  • Support thousands of users with a device


Easily load balance and scale your network- wide throughput with the Riverbed Interceptor appliance. Cluster up to 25 SteelHead appliances to manage 40 GBps of throughput.

Central Management Console (CMC)

Easily configure, monitor, upgrade, and report on groups of SteelHead, Virtual SteelHead, and Interceptor appliances — all through one easy-to-use web interface. Available as a standalone appliance or CMC virtual edition for deployment flexibility.

Virtual SteelHead

Extend WAN optimization and performance to VMware vSphere and Microsoft Hyper-V Server 2012 based virtual environments.

  • Same application performance and data transfer benefits in a virtual appliance
  • Increase capacity on demand

Cloud SteelHead

Extend subscription-based WAN optimization to infrastructure as a service (IaaS) clouds. Authorized servers redirect connections to the appropriate cloud appliance to accelerate performance.

  • Supported on Amazon Web Services and VMware ESX-based clouds
  • Accelerate migration and access to the cloud
  • Elastic sizing and easy cloning for the scale-as- you-go infrastructure

SteelHead Cloud Accelerator

Simplify WAN optimization integration into cloud environments in order to more efficiently manage the delivery of business-critical data and content from a public cloud infrastructure.

  • Extend WAN optimization to cloud services/ Software as a Service (SaaS) to manage business- critical data and content delivery and ensure peak application performance
  • Improve the performance of SaaS applications, such as Salesforce.com and Office 365 by up to 100x
  • Benefit from the Akamai deployment footprint and Akamai SureRoute technology to reduce distance, latency and packet loss

SteelHead Mobile

Improve mobile and remote user productivity and experience with WAN optimization designed for Windows and Mac based laptops.

  • Improve remote employee access to files and applications more than 19 times faster
  • Easily scale network performance to hundreds of thousands of remote users
  • Manage the policies that determine what optimizations take place per user or groups of users

SteelHead Mobile Controller

Manage SteelHead Mobile licenses and control the deployment, management, and reporting of SteelHead Mobile client software. Available in SMC standalone appliance or SMC virtual edition for deployment flexibility.

  • Gain real-time visibility into application and WAN performance
  • Access a single source for monitoring and license management
  • Receive one-touch software upgrades and health alerts

Download the Riverbed SteelHead Product Family Spec Sheet (.PDF)

Download the Riverbed SteelHead CX Data Sheet (.PDF)

Download the Riverbed SteelHead Family Brochure (.PDF)

Best-in-class optimization, plus essential visibility and control

SteelHead CX is a highly advanced solution that ensures consistent application performance. It is designed for today’s need for agility and cost efficiency. SteelHead accelerates performance for on-premises and SaaS applications, while providing unmatched control capabilities.


  • Identifies and differentiates among 1300+ applications, both on-premises and SaaS
  • Automatically creates Application Groups and easily applies intent-based, global business policies with local enforcement to meet your business requirements and application SLAs

Simplified control

  • Integrates business intent and application intelligence via dynamic Path Selection and advanced QoS capabilities for better performance; meets application SLAs
  • Provides a single management console, enabling sophisticated configuration and management with an intuitive GUI

Built-in security

  • Secures traffic flowing between SteelHeads for private (MPLS) and Internet links with ease − just a single click on the management console
  • Optimizes demanding protocols such as SSL/TLS using high-performance hardware running on Solid-State Drives (SSDs)

Video-Ready Web caching

  • Offers a single-ended web proxy and caching capability for reduced latency and bandwidth savings for video traffic


Accelerate applications and reduce bandwidth consumption

The SteelHead CX provides measurable benefits that reduce the burden of application performance management, allowing IT teams to focus on growth.

Improved application performance

  • Increases application and data transfer performance by up to 100x while reducing bandwidth utilization by up to 95%

Reduced OpEx for performance management

  • Reduces time spent in provisioning, reconfiguration and management of application performance via intuitive GUI

Integrated security

  • Ensures standards-based encryption and compliance in addition to optimized performance

Effective utilization of network resources

  • Delivers traffic prioritization and shaping to allow optimal utilization of MPLS and Internet circuits while meeting business requirements

Reduced MTTR with integrated visibility

  • Enables cost savings by reducing MTTR by over 2x in 79% of deployments (Source: TechValidate. TVID: FFB-228-288)

Improved hardware performance

  • Enables savings in power consumption, leveraging SSD-based hardware, and supports organizational growth with more users per unit of rackspace



Determine Your ROI

You understand the benefits of SteelHead WAN Optimization.  Now you can use the resources here to estimate the return on investment with WAN optimization for your organization.

Read the IDC Report: The Business Value of Riverbed SteelHead

Infographic: SteelHead – The ROI Winner



SteelHead CX

Improve application performance and data transfers served over WANs and other hybrid networks

The Riverbed SteelHead CX series features dedicated WAN optimization appliances, ideal for organizations that want to improve application performance and data transfers served over a wide area network. The series is engineered for seamless network integration into remote sites and data centers, with scalable performance designed to support a growing number of users, devices, and data.

As a result, SteelHead CX breaks through the application-performance barrier, helping you deliver on your application SLAs, while also optimizing your networking budgets. Whether you are an international Navy needing to optimize communication with a distributed fleet or an enterprise building out your private cloud, the SteelHead CX series delivers the performance and ROI necessary to ensure your project’s success.

Designed to provide the highest performing and most scalable WAN optimization solution for any sized environment, SteelHead CX appliances accelerate business applications, speed data transfers, and optimize WAN bandwidth costs to improve user productivity and simplify IT management across geographic boundaries.

Why hybrid WAN optimization and consolidation with SteelHead CX?

SteelHead CX brings sophisticated optimization to hybrid WANs. SteelHead CX delivers built-in security and accelerated performance across the entire network – as if the applications were performing locally. While many business-critical applications are moving to public clouds for SaaS, others, for compliance reasons, remain on premises in corporate data centers or on private clouds. SteelHead CX for Hybrid WANs is available in a variety of form factors/models, including appliances, virtual software and cloud instances.

With SteelHead CX you get:

  • Support for up to 1 million connections through an intelligent and scale-as-you-grow performance architecture
  • IT control with quality of service (QoS), path selection and secure transport features
  • Increased visibility with end-user monitoring for all optimized traffic on premises and optimized web and SaaS applications
  • Dynamic selection of the best application path based on network availability
  • Reduced latency with integrated video-ready web caching
  • Subscription-based cloud solution that accelerates 90% of major cloud providers and is certified for Microsoft Azure and VMware vCloud Air

Key Benefits

Increase performance up to 100x

  • Determine the optimal path for each application to speed delivery across the WAN and other networks
  • Reduce response times to make deploying virtual servers, desktops, and applications faster and easier than ever

Reduce costs and improve productivity

  • Reduce bandwidth utilization by up to 60-95%, thus deferring costly network bandwidth upgrades
  • Support up to one million connections
  • Increase throughput and number of connections in a single box by up to 50%
  • Balance traffic across private and public links

Gain visibility and control

  • Deploy in minutes without changes to applications, users, routers, or other IT infrastructure
  • Automatically discover and report on applications in use across your organization
  • Perform ongoing management through the powerful web-based and command line interfaces, including in-depth reporting and NetFlow exporting
  • Improve data protection efforts with a faster WAN. Eliminate your remote backup infrastructure and improve replication up to 10 times and more, while reducing the cost and complexity of your WAN infrastructure

SteelHead CX appliance Features

Multi-tiered optimization

  • Includes the Riverbed Optimization System (RiOS), which delivers LAN-like performance across the WAN
  • Accelerates all TCP applications to increase performance up to 100x
  • Combines data reduction, as well as TCP, UDP, and application-level protocol optimization across the WAN for an unparalleled multi-tiered optimization strategy

Support for large-scale deployments

  • Supports up to one million connections through an intelligent and scale-as-you-grow performance architecture
  • Improves ROI with up to 50% more connections and throughput from a single appliance

Faster, more cost-effective disaster recovery

  • Accelerates both replication and backup from the branch — or between data centers — by 10x or more
  • Eliminates the need for additional bandwidth or longer backup windows

Industry-leading performance

  • Features the highest-capacity all SSD-based WAN optimization controller
  • Includes a full range of SSD-based appliances ideal for large branch offices and data centers

Built-in visibility and packet capture

  • Turns on the embedded Cascade Shark to
 gather packet and flow data from the branch — with no additional instrumentation required
  • Provides remote-site troubleshooting and application-level visibility without affecting core WAN optimization — at no additional cost

SteelHead CX Series

Centralize And Reduce Operational Overhead While Improving End-user Satisfaction

Our award winning SteelHead WAN optimization products have been proven to dramatically speed up applications in some of the most demanding customer environments. Companies of all sizes depend on Riverbed to help meet end-user expectations regardless of device, location, or application all while enhancing control and visibility over their entire networks.

Key Benefits

  • Increase performance on the WAN for TCP applications up to 100 times, and, for specific apps, 100 times or more
  • Select the best path for application acceleration everywhere, using deep packet inspection (DPI)-based application awareness to distinguish between business- critical and recreational traffic
  • Cut complexity and improve end- user experience by consolidating files, email and application servers, and storage across branches
  • Defer costly network bandwidth upgrades by reducing bandwidth utilization up to 99%
  • Reduce risk by enabling speedy, resilient, and secure replication and backup over the WAN (often reducing replication times from hours to minutes)
  • Comply with regulations, such as SOX, HIPAA, and PCI by optimizing SSL traffic without compromising the end-to-end trust model
  • Gain visibility and control by determining where problems exist, what is causing the problems, and how best to solve those problems
  • Deliver local-quality performance to remote workers regardless of their location

An Integrated Approach To Delivering Optimized Performance

Our SteelHead solutions help organizations run faster and more efficiently, ensuring consistent service levels while cutting IT infrastructure costs.

IT consolidation: LAN-like performance over the WANBoomerang Email: 6.4 MB email attachment over T1 WAN – Time to Complete (in seconds)Virtualization: The “serverless” branch officeMS Excel, Word, PPT, and EXE File Transfer (25.9 MB Total) over T1 WAN – Time to Complete (in seconds)
Boomerang EmailBoomerang Email — 63 times faster with SteelHead WAN optimization.File Transfers in Seconds Using SMB3File Transfers in Seconds Using SMB3 – 60 times faster performance for for subsequent SteelHead transfers with SteelHead WAN Optimization.

Consolidated IT infrastructure can simplify management, increase resource utilization, and reduce costs. But it can often result in diminished application performance and user productivity, which offsets any cost savings.

With SteelHead, users can access consolidated IT resources without compromising performance.

Moving servers and storage out of the branch and into data centers — where they can be more efficiently aggregated, managed, and secure — allows you to deliver more cost-effective access back to end users across the WAN and Internet.

Putting SteelHead appliances in place also can help optimize your VMware vSphere or Microsoft Hyper-V edge services, such as printing or security.

In these scenarios, with no more complex build-outs or remote servers to buy, install, and manage, you can set up your branches more quickly and efficiently while also lowering overhead and increasing user productivity.

Cloud computing: Moving into the cloud

Whether you are creating a private cloud infrastructure or outsourcing to Software-as-a Service providers such as Salesforce.com or Office 365, the limitations on network bandwidth and latency still remain. End users are far away from the data and applications they are trying to access, resulting in poor user response and inefficient application and data delivery. Deploying SteelHead appliances is a great way to defeat both these problems, while also saving money on costly bandwidth upgrades. In short, they can be the driving force to enable consolidation to private or public cloud architectures and a faster path from end users to applications.

Riverbed SteelHead CX 555 Series
SteelHead Cloud WAN optimization regardless of location – you decide where the data lives. We’ll make sure it’s optimized.

Mobility And Disaster Recovery

Our mobile WAN optimization solution can help you address the inherent problems of a distributed workforce, such as high-latency and inconsistent connectivity from changing locations. This enables you to increase employee productivity wherever employees work. SteelHead appliances will also help your organization optimize continuity and recovery across a range of backup, replication, and cloud storage mechanisms without disrupting your current infrastructure — ensuring the protection of existing investments.

Mobility and BYOD: Enabling a remote workforce

SharePoint HTTP File Save: 6.14 MB file via Verizon Wireless v620 Broadband Card (788Kbps with ~200ms RTT latency) – Time to Complete (in seconds)

SharePoint HTTP File Save — 63 times faster with SteelHead Mobile.
SharePoint HTTP File Save — 63 times faster with SteelHead Mobile.

It can be a struggle to support mobile users who need access to corporate data and applications. In fact, mobile users often have to accept sub-optimal performance.

Riverbed SteelHead Mobile software extends our award-winning technology to any PC or laptop to deliver acceleration wherever users connect. With SteelHead Mobile, applications run faster, and remote workers have the applications they need anytime, anywhere. Now, bring your own device (BYOD), mobility initiatives, and desktop virtualization solutions can be optimized for use on the WAN.

Business continuity and disaster recovery: Enhanced data protection

NetApp SnapMirror Network Compression and Riverbed SteelHead WAN Optimization over 155 Mbps WAN – Time to Complete (in minutes)

NetApp SnapMirror Data Replication – LAN-like performance with SteelHead WAN Optimization.
NetApp SnapMirror Data Replication – LAN-like performance with SteelHead WAN Optimization.

With SteelHead, you can perform WAN-based backups or data replication without struggling to finish jobs in a tight backup window. It supports leading enterprise storage solutions, including EMC 2 , Hitachi Data Systems, as well as NetApp SnapMirror data replication and disaster recovery solutions.

With accelerated replication — up to 45 times — you can take more frequent snapshots and dramatically improve your recovery time in the event of a failure. We have advanced features for high-end, data-center-to-data-center disaster recovery, including enhancements for optimized throughput, tunable compression, and clustering for high availability and scalability. You also can use SteelHead appliances to dynamically adapt to “fill the pipe” for high-bandwidth environments, or to adopt higher compression, deduplication, QoS, traffic identification, and path selection to limit the impact on bandwidth for other applications on a shared WAN.




RiOS: The Power Behind the Family:

All SteelHead products are built on the Riverbed Optimization System (RiOS), which powers the product family through a combination of TCP optimization, application-level protocol optimizations, path selection, and patent-pending data reduction. These technologies, along with the RiOS management capabilities, provide a comprehensive solution for enterprise WAN optimization.

Hybrid networks: Greater application reliability and performance

With path selection technology in the latest version of RiOS (8.5), IT organizations can deploy and manage hybrid networks that combine the strengths of a highly reliable MPLS network with the benefits of the Internet — ubiquity, price, and speed. This delivers greater application reliability, performance, and cost savings in data centers, branch offices, and, private or public clouds while retaining IT control and minimizing complexity.

Path selection identifies the applications using deep packet inspection (DPI)-based application awareness to distinguish between business-critical and recreational traffic. You can use it to map applications to the appropriate paths available across the WAN and, in the case of performance issues, dynamically reroute applications to ensure no impact to users. It is simple to configure and can be used with other performance management tools that we provide without complex and tightly coupled router configurations.

Riverbed Path Selection Technology enables IT organizations to deploy and manage hybrid networks to deliver greater applications reliability, performance, and cost-savings in data centers, branch offices, and clouds while retaining control and minimizing complexity.
Riverbed Path Selection Technology enables IT organizations to deploy and manage hybrid networks to deliver greater applications reliability, performance, and cost-savings in data centers, branch offices, and clouds while retaining control and minimizing complexity.

RiOS: Four streamlining technologies

  • Data streamlining
    • Reduces bandwidth utilization by up to 99%
    • Industry leading scalability and patented de-duplication
    • Works with TCP-based protocols and applications including: file sharing (Windows and NFS), email (Exchange and Lotus Notes), CAD, web-based HTTP and HTTPS applications, databases (Oracle), virtual desktops (Citrix and VMware) and collaboration software (SharePoint).
    • Works with UDP-based file transfer applications, including Signiant, Aspera and Symantec’s Veritas Volume replicator
  • Transport streamlining
    • Reduces the number of TCP packets required to transfer data by 65 to 98%
    • Enables the acceleration of SSL-encrypted traffic throughout the enterprise to eliminate the security and performance trade-off
    • Enables greater utilization of high bandwidth links (long fat networks, such as OC3, OC12, and metrofiber) for HS-TCP and MX-TCP
    • Supports satellite optimization for TCP links (based on SCPS extensions) over satellite connections that tend to be high latency, dynamic bandwidth, or lossy due to signal-to-noise ratio
  • Application streamlining
    • Offers the broadest support for application-specific modules to provide performance improvements on top of the data and transport streamlining optimization performed on all TCP traffic
    • Reduces application protocol chattiness up to 98%
    • Minimizes application overhead to provide massive throughput increases to such applications as file sharing (CIFS, SMB2/3, and NFS), collaboration software (Sharepoint), email (Exchange, including Office 365 and MAPI, and Lotus Notes), web (HTTP and HTTPS), database (MS-SQL and Oracle), and storage and disaster recovery (NetApp SnapMirror)
  • Management streamlining
    • Enables easy deployment through auto-discovery of peers and auto- interception of traffic — with no reconfiguration of clients, servers, or routers
    • Simplifies ongoing management by providing simple, but powerful, web-based and command-line interfaces, in-depth reporting, and real-time NetFlow export
    • Supports a vast array of network environments and topologies, including but not limited to MPLS, VoIP, video conferencing, QoS, VPN, satellite infrastructure, ATM, frame relay, microwave, and wireless



Virtual SteelHead

Are you looking for ways to optimize WAN performance without supporting physical hardware in your remote locations?

Virtual SteelHead appliance brings the same optimization as physical SteelHead appliances, but without the physical requirements. That makes it ideal for tight spaces and ruggedized environments, such as mobile news vans, construction trailers, and military deployments, to name a few. What’s more, you can manage it with industry-standard virtualization tools, such as VMware vSphere and Microsoft Hyper-V, for a seamless fit into your fully virtualized data center environments and existing management tools.

  • Easily upgrade WAN optimization capacity
    • Stop adding or upgrading servers to accommodate future growth
    • Ensure that applications in remote offices are always available — even as you consolidate servers in a virtual environment
    • Scale WAN optimization connections and bandwidth with a simple license key upgrade
  • Use both technology and personnel resources more efficiently
    • Save money by deploying less hardware
    • Increase utilization with pooled resources
    • Flex data throughput as needed — for example, seasonally or with the launch of new products — to maximize application performance and better manage bandwidth consumption
  • Maintain business continuity during IT consolidation
    • Benefit from easy, no-downtime solutions for moving applications and data centers
    • Use standard virtualization management tools, such as VMware vSphere and Microsoft Hyper-V, to manage your deployment
  • Support ruggedized environments, such as military deployments
    • Host Virtual SteelHead on your existing custom and highly durable equipment
    • Deploy WAN optimization even in scenarios where physical space is limited


SteelHead Mobile


Employee productivity is no longer limited to local employees working onsite at corporate headquarters. That’s why you need to ensure that your global workforce — whether working in local branches, the field, or home offices — is as productive as possible no matter where they are.

  • Save on expensive mobile data charges
    • Reduce bandwidth use by up to 85 to 99%
    • Achieve real savings in mobile data plans, especially when connecting over data cards and satellite links
  • Avoid infrastructure changes
    • Work in perfect harmony with other SteelHead appliances
    • Eliminate the need to make changes to routers, VPN infrastructure, SSL/HTTPS servers, or any other key technologies
  • Accelerate client systems up to Windows 8 and 64-bit
    • Improve the performance of Microsoft’s entire catalog of operating systems, as well as 64-bit systems required by memory and data-intensive applications like Revit

Features and Benefits:

  • Improved performance with minimal delays
    • Provides a performance optimization solution for branch office and mobile workers
    • Uses URL learning, page parsing, embedded object pre-fetching, and metadata acceleration modes
  • Acceleration of business-critical web applications up to 60x
    • Supports Microsoft SharePoint, Microsoft Windows applications (e.g., SMBv2, Outlook anywhere, Kerberos), Intranet portals, document management systems, and ERP and CRM applications (e.g., SAP NetWeaver, JD Edwards, Siebel)
  • Unmatched scalability
    • Easily scales network performance to hundreds of thousands of mobile users
  • Complete visibility and control
    • Lets you manage the configuration policies that determine what optimizations take place per user or groups of users

Download the Riverbed SteelHead Product Family Spec Sheet (.PDF)

Download the Riverbed SteelHead Family Brochure (.PDF)

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