Riverbed upgrades set sights on the SD-WAN edge, cloud integration

At Riverbed’s Disrupt event in New York’s upscale Conrad Hotel today, the company announced new products designed to help customers move their enterprise network more fully into the cloud arena.

At the heart of the announcements, Version 2.0 of Riverbed’s SteelConnect software-defined WAN product which adds router capabilities to the gateway hardware for the first time, letting users replace legacy routers.

Version 2.0 also integrates SteelCentral – the company’s application performance management system - features into the SteelConnect front end, and introduces two new gateway models, which feature up to 10Gbps of throughput capability.

SteelConnect, which was initially launched earlier this year, is Riverbed’s ambitious attempt to broaden its presence in the network management arena. In addition to its SD-WAN management capabilities, SteelConnect lets IT departments manage cloud and LAN deployments from the same interface.

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The idea is to provide a one-stop provisioning, monitoring and management solution for the network, using a robust GUI to simplify tasks that would have required hundreds of lines of manual command-line input in the past. Traffic management, QoS rules and even standing up or sitting down virtual network devices can be accomplished via a few clicks.

According to Paul O’Farrell, senior vice president and general manager of SteelConnect, traditional network management methods simply won’t do anymore.

“Legacy hardware-based approaches to branch networking haven’t changed in 20 years, and are simply too rigid, complex and fragile to support the modern needs of businesses today, especially as it relates to complexities introduced by the adoption of cloud services and hybrid WAN topologies,” he said.

The company also introduced features for the SteelCentral APM offering, including end-user experience monitoring – courtesy of Riverbed’s recent acquisition of Aternity, a specialist in user visibility – and a new SaaS delivery option. The former lets SteelCentral users view performance data from the actual end user’s perspective, while the latter lets them implement those features without the use of a dedicated hardware appliance.

Finally, Riverbed also rolled out a new Cloud-Ready Branch service, designed to let IT departments provision new branch offices remotely.

The overall theme of the announcements is one of centralization – both in the sense of Riverbed’s products being increasingly interoperable and in the emphasis on offering customers the ability to manage more of their IT infrastructure from a single place.

And the company may have stolen a march on its competitors, according to Enterprise Strategy Group analyst Daniel Conde. If the integrated Riverbed management suite finds good traction, other companies may find themselves playing catch-up.

“With a holistic view that goes beyond connectivity by offering orchestration and workflow, SteelConnect is a product that focuses on both application delivery and security for the enterprise and takes a distinctive approach from what other vendors are providing in the market,” Conde said.

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Copyright © 2016 IDG Communications, Inc.

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