Riverbed, Others Widen WAN Optimization

Riverbed teams with software partners and eyes network monitoring opportunities

May 6, 2008

4 Min Read
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By James Rogers and Craig Matsumoto, West Coast Editor, Light Reading,May 5, 2008, 8:00 AM

As users confront greater geographic diversity in their networks, WAN optimization vendors are looking to boil additional software features into their appliances.

First up is Riverbed, which today announced deals with a raft of vendors, including Opsware, Compuware, NetScout, and Opnet, to enable third-party software to collect and compile information from Riverbeds Steelhead appliances.

Opsware, which is now part of HP, will collect device configuration data from the appliances, whereas Opnet is building software agents that will troubleshoot Riverbed's devices. NetScout’s software will work with the Steelhead appliances to provide network performance data, something which is becoming increasingly important, according to Riverbed.

“As we get into these huge networks, it’s kind of required that we use these types of applications,” says Alan Saldich, Riverbed's VP of product marketing and alliances. “[Users] know there are problems, but all they know is that a link's congested -- they don't really know what's going on with that link.”Today's announcement is the latest in a campaign by Riverbed to extend the role of its optimizers in large networks. It follows Riverbed's recent move to add third-party software services to the Steelhead appliances, underlining the vendor's desire to tap into users' consolidation efforts.

Although he is not using the likes of Compuware and Opsware on his 20 Steelhead appliances, Dave Hogan, network architect engineer at Kulpsville, Pa.-based manufacturing firm Greene Tweed, says he is glad that the option is now open to him. And he's all for Riverbed's expanded vision of what its optimizers need to do.

"It's a tremendous benefit -- this is really helping to simplify the complexity," he says. "We settled on Riverbed because of its ability to handle multiple software packages."

At least one analyst thinks Riverbed's on the right track. ”Riverbed provides the acceleration out to the WAN, but there’s a lot that happens before you get there -- you need all these different parts,” says Tracy Corbo, a senior analyst at IDC. “You need to be able to manage that traffic and monitor it.”

Riverbed is not the only WAN optimization vendor looking for greater network visibility.Cisco has integrated software from network monitoring specialist NetQoS into its WAAS devices. Elsewhere, Silver Peak has a partnership with troubleshooting specialist AlterPoint and is in various stages of certification with other vendors in this space, according to a spokesman.

Elsewhere, Blue Coat aims to boost its network monitoring capabilities with its planned $268 million acquisition of Packeteer. “These are the key technology pieces that we hope to get with the acquisition of Packeteer’s PacketShaper products,” says Johnathon Cervelli, Blue Coat’s senior product marketing manager, explaining that PacketShaper provides the ability to see and categorize applications and their performance on the network.

Riverbed's core business continues to be in selling to IT departments, but with the addition of network monitoring, it is now likely that the vendor will be selling into service providers in a bigger way. Riverbed could sell its WAN acceleration boxes, along with network visibility tools, into service providers, who would then offer the combination as a managed service. "A lot of companies like to buy their routers as a service, so it makes sense they would want to have this as a service too," says Saldich.

Riverbed's latest move widens its competition along with its capabilities. Startup Streamcore, for instance, touts monitoring appliances aimed specifically at service providers.

Riverbed also overhauled its Central Management Console (CMC) software today, adding additional reporting capabilities with the release of CMC version 5.0. Users can now obtain reports based on criteria such as branch office size and even application type. Security on CMC is also bulked up with role-based user access used to control up to 500 Steelhead appliances.Greene Tweed's Hogan told Byte and Switch that this will make his life much easier by enabling designated users to access specific parts of his WAN optimization infrastructure, whereas previously, he acted as the sole gatekeeper. "This means that I can take a vacation and know that somebody is monitoring," he explains. "Previously, I had to take my phone wherever I went."

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  • AlterPoint Inc.

  • Blue Coat Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: BCSI)

  • Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO)

  • Compuware Corp. (Nasdaq: CPWR)

  • Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ)

  • IDC

  • NetScout Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: NTCT)

  • Opnet Technologies Inc. (Nasdaq: OPNT)

  • Opsware Inc. (Nasdaq: OPSW)

  • Packeteer Inc. (Nasdaq: PKTR)

  • Riverbed Technology Inc. (Nasdaq: RVBD)

  • Silver Peak Systems Inc.

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