Riverbed has been the market leader and de facto standard in WAN optimization for well over a decade. When Riverbed first launched its flagship product, Steelhead, the company took off like a rocket, proving to be a panacea to almost all private WAN woes. In fact, one network manager once described Riverbed to me as “network crack,” meaning once you get a taste of it, you need to continually get more.
However, times have changed and more and more organizations are evolving to SD-WANs. This doesn’t obviate the need for WAN optimization, but it certainly shifts the emphasis to other technologies. The SD-WAN space has been filled with startups because the traditional vendors, like Riverbed, were slow to come to market with solutions.
Last year at the ONUG event, Riverbed unveiled Project Tiger, its multi-step journey to a market-leading SD-WAN solution, with the first phase due in mid 2016.
This week, Riverbed accelerated the timetable when it announced the acquisition of Ocedo, a German-based SD-WAN vendor founded in 2013. The solution was made generally available in December 2014 and, despite the short timeline, Ocedo already has somewhere in the range of 70 enterprise and carrier customers with resellers in Asia-Pacific and Europe. The solution can be delivered as a cloud-managed service from the Ocedo cloud, as an on-premise solution, or deployed as an Amazon Web Service.
The Ocedo acquisition may seem like it has a lot of overlap with Project Tiger, but it should actually help make it easier for Riverbed to achieve its goal of enabling zero-touch provisioning. The two companies are highly complementary, and Riverbed’s SD-WAN launch, now pegged for Q1, will combine Ocedo with Riverbed’s quality of service, VPN, and DPI capabilities.
The vision Riverbed outlined with Project Tiger is certainly in line with where the industry is headed. Corporate WANs are evolving away from static, rigid networks with overly complicated branches to a software-defined model where automation and orchestration bring an unparalleled level of agility.
However, given the momentum in the SD-WAN market, it’s fair to say that Riverbed has been late to market. The Ocedo acquisition and the imminent launch of a combined solution will help it catch up quickly. How it evolves the solution from here will determine whether Riverbed can assume a similar position in SD-WAN as it had in WAN optimization.