Not content with more than half of the WAN optimization market, and more than twice the share of its closest competitor, Riverbed Technology is looking to broaden its lead with a major update to the software that powers its line of Steelhead application acceleration appliances and Steelhead Mobile client software. "RiOS [Riverbed Optimization System] 7 is a big release for us," says Naveen Prabhu, senior product marketing manager. "We're paying a lot of attention to enterprise video."
The company has added stream splitting for end-to-end video optimization capabilities; UDP optimization for disaster recovery applications and IPv6; ICA over SSL optimization for expanding acceleration and control for virtual desktop environments; and optimization support for additional enterprise applications.
Despite its dominant position, Riverbed has had its challenges. While crowned by Gartner as a leader in the WAN optimization controller market, last quarter's revenues fell far short of the estimates of $182.86 million and shares fell more than 20% in after-hours trading. In July the company also announced the acquisitions of Zeus Technology (United Kingdom), high-performance application delivery control for virtual and cloud environments, and Aptimize (New Zealand), Web content optimization.
Riverbed's last major RiOS upgrade (6.5), was announced in early February and focused on quality of service. New QoS-related features included Riverbed AppFlow Classification Engine with multiple techniques, including application signature matching; protocol dissection and behavior analysis; latency-aware QoS to prioritize applications and allocate bandwidth based on their sensitivity to latency; and Templated Scalable Management to simplify the process of provisioning QoS into three simple steps. The latter leverages the Riverbed Central Management Console (CMC), a single Web interface that enables enterprises to configure, monitor, report on and upgrade groups of Steelhead appliances.
Cindy Borovick, research VP for IDC’s enterprise communications and data center networks services, thinks that Riverbed has hit on a number of key trends with this announcement. "At IDC, we believe that video has reached a point where the network manager has to 'accept' video. It is not just about allowing employees access out to Internet sites. Video is being used by the enterprise for use cases such as training, executive communications, corporate culture, customer service, marketing launches, communication to customers, partners and suppliers, and/or user-generated content to let experts share knowledge and best practices. As a result, Riverbed is right in line with where customer requirements are."
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