OPNET, Riverbed share a box

* Application performance management software bundled inside WAN optimization appliance

As businesses become more distributed and the number of branch offices climbs, enterprise IT teams are becoming keen on reducing the number of appliances they have to deploy in each remote environment.

Vendors like Certeon and Expand Networks are addressing this issue by packaging their WAN acceleration products as virtual appliances that can be deployed in a virtual server environment

Another option is to make room inside a WAN optimization appliance for other functions, such as a print server or DNS services. That’s the approach Riverbed Technology is taking with its Riverbed Services Platform (RSP), which lets Riverbed Steelhead appliances act as branch application servers, hosting applications on VMware virtual machines. Among the services available for deployment on the RSP include streaming media, print services, DNS, DHCP and IP address management.

Most recently, Riverbed added a new RSP option: Application performance monitoring.

Riverbed partnered with OPNET Technologies, which makes tools for monitoring application performance over the WAN. Through the agreement, customers can run OPNET’s ACE Live software inside a Steelhead appliance.

ACE Live monitors application performance by tracking metrics such as end-user response times, utilization, route quality and ISP performance. IT teams receive alarms when thresholds are violated.

ACE Live “sees the traffic go by and generates a wealth of reports about what’s going on. It looks at everything from network-level information all the way to analyzing business transactions and giving you the end user experience, from an application transaction perspective,” says Alain Cohen, OPNET’s president and CTO.

ACE Live also can be used to quantify the bandwidth reduction realized from Steelhead deployments. Using predictive analytics, it can help customers decide where it makes the most sense to deploy Steelheads, Cohen adds.

A key benefit of the new Riverbed-OPNET deal is that customers can have a single-box solution for application acceleration and performance management -- two functions that go hand-in-hand. Enterprises can maintain a smaller IT footprint at the branch office without sacrificing any of the functionality of ACE Live, Cohen says.

“This is not an agent that we’re placing on the Riverbed box, this is our entire appliance. It just happens to be done in a software approach, rather than an extra box,” Cohen says.

Another key advantage of using ACE Live in an environment with Riverbed’s WAN optimization gear is the opportunity for greater visibility into traffic as it travels between Steelhead appliances, says P.J. Malloy, vice president of engineering for OPNET’s application performance products.

“Riverbed most often is using correct addressing, so from a troubleshooting perspective, that basically makes it look like one Steelhead is talking to another Steelhead, and you lose visibility into your end users, servers and applications,” Malloy says. “With ACE Live on the RSP, we’re enabling people to get back that visibility. We can peer into that traffic.”

ACE Live will be available on RSP by the end of the year. The integrated solution builds on the companies’ joint partnership, which was announced in June.

Join the Network World communities on Facebook and LinkedIn to comment on topics that are top of mind.

Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

IT Salary Survey: The results are in