Riverbed Technology has introduced a virtual version of its WAN optimisation controller to try to lower the optimisation cost barrier for small businesse.

The Steelhead Controller Virtual Edition, software runs on a Riverbed Steelhead WAN optimisation appliance. Previously the controllers were sold only as appliances at an entry cost of $12,995(£7,900) for the hardware and the minimum 30 licences.

The virtual version sells with a minimum of 10 licences for a cost of $5,995. Once the number of licenses gets to 30, the cost of the virtual version and the appliance are about the same. The virtual version tops out at 100 licences while with a new software upgrade, the appliance can now handle as many as 4,000, double the previous capacity.

Controllers keep track of how many licences customers have for individual desktops and laptops to run Riverbed Mobile Client software.

Riverbed is also upgrading the mobile client to optimice Lotus Notes traffic, a feature that was formerly limited to traffic running between two Steelhead appliances. Now Notes traffic between a mobile client and a Steelhead appliance can be optimised as well. The company says Notes traffic takes as little as one-eighteenth the time to cross WAN links than it does without the optimisation.