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Enhancing WAN performance using Riverbed Steelhead–Part1– File Share Improvements

WAN is the issue, I loved what Riverbed said in their document explaining WAN bandwidth (it is an scapegoat), yes it is. If something is not right at the apps it is the WAN’s issue.

I had a decent networking experience, and I dealt in the past with several networking products, but this is the first time I see a product with such easy configuration steps , and  can expose deep insights about what is happening in the network, and work.

Installing Riverbed Steelhead virtual appliance:

You can download the virtual appliance from here keep in mind that you will need to ask for 2 demo keys because Riverbed appliances work in pairs.

Once downloaded, import the OVF (you can import it to ESXi or Hyper-v or VMware workstation). the only note here is to pay attention to network cards connectivity, when you import the appliance to your hypervisor, the NIC ordering is as following:


Running the Configuration wizard:

Once the appliance started, you will be prompted with the configuration wizard, alternatively you can start it by going into enable mode and running

#Config t

(Config)”#Configurations jump-start

The wizard will ask you for several questions (Check the list here https://support.riverbed.com/download.htm?filename=doc\steelhead\8.5.1\html\vsh_8.5.1_icg\index.html&displayHtmlWindow=true&displayHtml=true) but here are several notes will help you in placing and configuring your steelhead appliance”:

– Steelhead is preferred to be physically in-line with traffic, meaning that traffic passes the WAN through the steelhead appliance.

– Steelhead appliance is not a routing device, it passes the traffic transparently from clients/servers/routers/switches so it is like a bridge, it optimizes the traffic on the fly without altering source/destination IPs or ports (unless it is installed as proxy which is a separate discussion)

– Steelhead appliances have LAN interface which is connected to the LAN side and WAN interface which is connected to the WAN side (router), there is a virtual in-path interface that is created and assigned IP, the in-path interface will be used in configuring peering rules and in-path rules.

– WAN/LAN interfaces can’t be connected to the same layer 2 domain or a loop error will be logged and interfaces shutdown.

– To be able to start the configuration wizard, LAN/WAN interfaces must not be shutdown, to do so you must issue the command no in-path lsp enable which disables link state propagation. I had to do this because when i ran the configuration wizard I kept getting “Setting IP address on invalid interface” error.

Lab Setup:

The lab setup is very simple, but you will need to pay attention to steehead cabling or you will get errors or optimization will not work.

My lab setup is:

DC (IP => Riverbed 1 (In Path Interface => Windows Machine as a router (NIC 1 IP is (NIC 2 IP is => Riverbed 2 (IP => File Server (IP

if you configuring the Windows Router machine correctly and configured machines pointing the router as default GW, you will be fine and ping should be working correctly.

now let us configure a VERY simple peering rule to optimize the traffic.

Peering rules allows the steelhead appliance to react to probe queries from other appliances, think about it is defining another peer in a remote site to optimize the traffic directly.

You can also use in-path rules but it uses discovery rules so I believe peering rules are much simpler.

to create a peering rule, from configuration menu select peering rules and configure peering rule to match all the traffic coming from all sources to all destination and optimize it with the other peer IP ( you will have to the same with the other side appliance


That is it!!! really, you are done, let us see the effect of the optimization.

to see it, I had to record a video, because it was unbelievable, I haven’t edited the video by any mean, just watch it below (here I am copying 50 MB file (.net framework 4 ISO), the first copy is not optimized and the WAN speed is about 500 KB, the second copy is optimized, let us see how fast it was Open-mouthed smile

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