I have started using the Riverbed Service Platform or RSP on the 1050h Steelhead appliances. So the appliance has Vmware Server running as a service with dedicated ram and disk space depending on the model. The 1050H model has 4GB of ram and 200GB of disk space for the RSP partition. Spec sheet can be found here. The solution seems to fit in SMB environments where redundancy is not needed for the service running in the RSP space.
My experience was varied with using RSP. Maybe I am spoiled with the ease of vSphere or VI3 but getting a vm guest into the RSP partition is a bit painful but works very well once it’s there.
First I will point out my experience with using RSP. So, first there is now way to create a vm guest in RSP itself. You have to create the vm guest in Vmware Server, Workstation, or ESX with the operating system and preferably with the application installed. Then you have to convert or export the vm guest to disk in the right format. Once the vm guest has been converted with the vmx, vmdk, etc in a local folder you have to convert the vm guest files once more using the Riverbed package creator.
Really the package creator mainly is just compressing the vm guest files but this process can take an hour or more. This is if you don’t get an error mid process saying that it can’t finish which I have experienced a few times. I only seemed to get the error message when either creating the vm guest with multiple hard disks or vmdk’s or when the single hard disk size was over 160GB. And though you have 200GB from the spec sheet don’t expect to create a vm guest with a total size of 180GB of disk space. Because there are other things using this partition like the compress package itself when you upload it.
After you have created the RSP package or *.pkg file you will have to upload it to the steelhead appliance. This can be done using ftp, http, scp or cli. I experience issues with uploading files which were 2GB and higher. You could upload from the web management page but depending on your file size the cli is recommended.
Once the rsp package has been upload it’s just a matter of adding the package to a slot, setting the network up, and enabling it. From there the vm guest can be accessed the same way you would any Vmware Server vm guest or by RDP. Just note that you can only extend your disk space while on the appliance if you have rois/rsp version 6.0.2. Also added in this version is the creation of a new hard disk while on the appliance which could save you time on converting, reduce the size of the RSP package, and reduce the time to upload the package.
While RSP seems like a good idea I think it would be easier to just buy a 2u server and put esxi on it if you need a small footprint with virtualization capability. But if don’t have large requirements for vm guest memory or disk space this could be a good fit giving you have time and patience.