Riverbed has upgraded its WAN optimisation software, reducing the time it takes to send Unix files across wide-area connections.

Release 3.0 of the RiOS software makes the network file server (NFS) protocol less "chatty", which translates into less traffic across WAN links when Unix files are sent, so the links and the protocol perform better.

One customer that beta tested RiOS 3.0 says it reduced NFS transaction times to 30 percent of what they were before. Aircraft assembly design firm ElectroImpact upgraded to RiOS 3.0 in its home office and at two sites in the UK, says Jon Wilson, senior network engineer for the firm.

The previous version of the software sped up mixed traffic on the connections so that a 5GB sample that took more than an hour to transfer without the device took just a minute and a half, Wilson says.

Like other WAN optimisation vendors, Riverbed uses multiple methods for speeding up traffic, including compression, storing large traffic patterns so they can be tapped locally rather than across the WAN, TCP optimisation and application optimisation. The company competes against Certeon, Expand Networks, F5 Networks, Juniper and Packeteer.

RiOS 3.0 also adds support for Cisco's NetFlow records so sysadmins can better track traffic that passes through Steelhead devices. Wilson says he uses the feature as a troubleshooting tool. The combination of NetFlow and Steelhead data lets him look at overall network traffic and discover congestion points from a single application rather than having to monitoring multiple devices. Once he has located trouble, he uses other tools to pinpoint the cause of the problem.

He says he is also using the QoS feature that is part of RiOS 3.0 to prioritise VoIP traffic. "We used to get the occasional stutter with the VoIP, but we don't get it now," he says.

Riverbed also announced a new hardware device called Interceptor 9200 that parcels out traffic to deployments of multiple Steelhead appliances at a single site. If a company needs 10 Steelheads at headquarters to handle all the traffic from its remote offices, the Interceptor would handle the traffic first and disburse it to the Steelheads using round-robin queuing.

On top of that Riverbed is introducing two Steelhead devices, one of which is its top-of-the line Steelhead 6020. The 6020 has throughput of 310Mbit/s, support for 40,000 simultaneous TCP connections, and costs $120,000. The Steelhead 5520 supports 155Mbit/s, 15,000 simultaneous TCP connections and costs $70,000.

Find out more: IDG's WAN Optimisation Conference is on 26th September 2006 in London.