Riverbed debuts cloud, UC management features for SteelCentral

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Riverbed baked several new features into the latest version of its SteelCentral application performance and network management suite, designed to help manage networking components and applications that live in the cloud and unified communications systems – as well as making the whole thing a little more intuitive.

The new features, which are available for SteelCentral customers to download today, provide visibility into application traffic in Azure and AWS, as well as PaaS and containerized environments. They also offer newly integrated support for a range of unified communications applications, letting IT manage them from the same portal.

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The interface has also gotten an overhaul, designed to make it more intuitive to manage complicated applications operating via several levels of abstraction.

It’s a novel combination of capabilities, according to EMA research director for application management Julie Craig. There are several vendors in the network management sector that are moving heavily into the cloud, but none that bring both the APM and network management pieces at the same time.

“[M]any companies are still attempting to ‘manually correlate’ insights from network and application tools via ‘war rooms’ and similar collaborative efforts,” she said. “So integrating the two really is a big deal.”

While the new SteelCentral benefits require a mostly Riverbed stack to function correctly, in an age where much is written about companies being worried about vendor lock-in, Craig’s research shows that these concerns can be overstated.

“When they are trying to get end-to-end visibility into application and network performance, it is often the case that the need for better performance insight trumps any concerns about lock-in,” she told Network World.

Erik Hille, product marketing director for SteelCentral, unsurprisingly concurs, arguing that this is a strength of the product, not a weakness.

“Within one solution suite, we have application monitoring, network monitoring and end-user experience monitoring all blended, all able to be presented to IT managers, both that are doing the troubleshooting so that they can get a good perspective on what is actually causing problems,” he said.

It seems to be working for one customer, at least. Chris Clifford is an enterprise network services manager at Trinity Health, a not-for-profit Catholic healthcare provider that runs 86 hospitals in the U.S. He said that the new features of SteelCentral had helped identify root causes of problems much more quickly than before.

“For one issue in particular, the network team was able to identify a JavaScript error as the cause of a problem and get the application vendor involved in a matter of hours as opposed to days,” he told Network World.

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