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WAN Optimization System Continues to Morph

Boundary lines among different products should always be draw in pencil rather than in pen. As technology matures, autonomous products often are melded, and the integration simplifies user deployments and eases management. Such a transition appears to be taking place in the WAN optimization market.Riverbed has emerged as a leader in the WAN optimization market, with its Steelhead product line. Recently, the company has been trying to transform its device from a network focused product into a general purpose application enhancement system. Part of that transition revolves around the companys Riverbed Services Platform (RSP), which allows a small or medium business to run business applications in virtualized partitions.

As part of that transition, the company has worked with Microsoft to run Windows on Steelhead systems. The services that will be supported initially include Domain Name System, Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol, Active Directory, and Windows streaming and print service.

Consolidating different products enables businesses to reduce their device count, which should reduce energy consumption. Simpler management is another potential benefit. But there are some potential downsides. The Riverbed product becomes a single point of failure. If it goes down so do all of companys applications. Also when problems arise, it can be more difficult to figure out how to fix them since multiple items are running on these systems. In some case, small and medium businesses may have to wade through a couple of layers of technical assistance rather than one to get help In some cases, taking advantage of Riverbeds new features makes sense, but it is not a capability that will appeal to all small and medium businesses.