The server will run on the Riverbed Service Platform (RSP), a partition of Riverbed's Steelhead WAN optimization appliances that can support five VMware virtual machines per appliance.
This would have been possible without the OEM agreement between Riverbed and Microsoft, but customers would have been required to deal with both vendors. Customers with existing Windows Server licenses can deploy the software on RSP if they pay appropriate license fees.
Running applications on branch office Steelheads enables businesses to consolidate the number of devices deployed in branches without actually pulling the applications out of the branches and into central data centers. Some businesses want to keep local instances of certain servers such as DHCP, DNS and print, for example.
Riverbed gear has undergone certification testing to show its hardware and virtual environment support the Microsoft software, which means that Microsoft will honor service support when Windows Server is deployed on the Riverbed machines.
To take advantage of the Windows Server bundle, customers have to buy a Steelhead device and upgrade it for about US$1,000 to acquire RSP capabilities and to make sure the device has enough memory, Riverbed says. Pricing for the Microsoft software depends on the size of the deployment.
Riverbed already accelerates specific Microsoft applications based on the applications' unique protocol characteristics so they operate more efficiently over the WAN than if they were subjected just to Riverbed's generic optimization techniques. These applications include Windows, Exchange, SharePoint, SQL Server, System Center Configuration Manager, Data Protection Manager and App-V.
Optimizing applications over the WAN helps convince businesses to consolidate servers in data centers rather than continue to support local servers in branch offices because they can do so without forfeiting performance.