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Riverbed Tackles APM with Acquisition of OPNET

Riverbed, which provides WAN optimization and network performance monitoring, is expanding its services by adding application performance management through its acquisition of OPNET. Under a deal announced Oct. 29, Riverbed is paying about $1 billion, or about $43 per share, in cash and stock for OPNET, according to the two companies.

The acquisition will allow Riverbed to provide a wider range of performance management services to its customers, helping them to watch their networks as well as their critical business applications. Under the agreement, OPNET will be folded into Riverbed's Cascade business unit by 2014.

Michael Biddick, CEO of consulting firm Fusion PPT and an InformationWeek Reports analyst, called the OPNET purchase "a strategic acquisition for Riverbed."

In the past, OPNET has been best-known for its network modeling and analysis tools, Biddick wrote in an email. "However, they have long had compelling products to support APM and the movement to virtual cloud computing environments. While OPNET rarely received the amount of attention compared to the other APM vendors, they have some strong technology to meet a variety of use cases."

In the future, "the challenge for Riverbed will be to maintain the strategic products within the OPNET portfolio and gain more market share," wrote Biddick.

The move will pit Riverbed against a host of APM competitors, including APM-specific vendors such as Compuware and major players such as IBM, HP and Computer Associates.

Application performance management technology aims to provide a detailed view of application behavior to help IT shops and service providers ensure that users experience strong levels of performance. APM products help organizations identify the source of performance problems or outages by gathering metrics from a variety of points in the application chain, including Web and application servers, middleware, network devices and end user devices.

According to a 2010 InformationWeek Reports paper, 38% of respondents to an APM survey use APM tools, and another 10% said they planned to within the next 12 months.

The acquisition deal, which is expected to close by Dec. 31, calls for Riverbed to acquire all outstanding shares of OPNET common stock, according to the companies. OPNET, based in Bethesda, Md., was founded in 1986. Riverbed, founded in 2002, is based in San Francisco.

Earlier in October, Riverbed launched its latest Steelhead EX appliances, which now integrate VMware's vSphere. Riverbed's VMware vSphere integration brings centralized management and easier configuration to all five models of the Steelhead EX appliances to make it easier for organizations to manage their extended virtual machines in remote branch locations from their data centers. This is the first time that VMware's vSphere vCenter Server has been built into the Steelhead EX appliances and the first time that the units can be managed from afar. The new Steelhead EX appliances will be on sale before the end of the year.