Riverbed Meanders Into User Experience Monitoring

Cascade 8.4 release adds new measurements plus virtual instrumentation

This week Riverbed announced the latest release of their Cascade performance management solution. Version 8.4 marks one of the most significant expansions in functionality since Riverbed acquired Mazu Networks and launched the Cascade brand. The release adds two major feature sets -- integrated user experience monitoring and virtualization packaging for Cascade Sensor technology.

When Riverbed acquired Mazu, it was unclear what strategy they would pursue with the performance monitoring and reporting platform technology that is Cascade. Certainly, they needed a better story for managing their own Steelhead optimization elements, but would they take advantage of the product’s vendor-independent capabilities? While this question has not been entirely answered, one thing is for sure -- Riverbed does not intend to keep Cascade in their back pocket, simply as a checkbox item.

But back to the product, it's worthy to note that the Cascade 8.4 release does a great job of pushing the envelope and taking advantage of what visibility and control is available within a WAN optimization solution. And Cascade has retained (and Riverbed intends leverage) the ability to deploy its solution without the presence of Steelhead appliances.

On the user experience monitoring side, the new release adds measurements at the network, application, and connection layers. They are calling their new metrics “throughput", which I personally find a bit confusing, but in essence they are response time measures. And not only will these metrics be added into their cadre of user interface and report visualizations, they will also be fed into the Cascade behavior analytics functions, which can help greatly to sift through volumes of performance data and identify relevant changes in activity which warrant further scrutiny or action.

On the instrumentation side, Cascade adds the Sensor-VE deployment option. Sensor-VE is a virtual appliance designed for deployment within the RSP hypervisor offered on the Steelhead optimization appliances. The sensor is priced aggressively, at $500 list, so that it can be readily deployed to smaller remote sites at a reasonable cost. Cascade is more of a follower than a leader in taking this step, technologically, however now they are on board the virtual world is open to them and other deployment scenarios, not involving Steelheads, will inevitably be considered.

Overall, this is a solid competitive move for Riverbed versus their key rivals in the WOC space, Cisco and Blue Coat, and as they continue to add more capabilities into Cascade they are making a decent case as an independent application-aware network performance management solution.

Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

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