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Riverbed jumping into SD-WAN market in 2016

Riverbed plans a suite of SD-WAN services and products underpinned by new SteelHead OS.

Riverbed Technology is putting the finishing touches on a new slate of SD-WAN products, available next year, that the company hopes will make it stand out in a competitive SD-WAN market.

A central component of the new initiative, dubbed Project Tiger, is the elimination of a branch router. Instead, routing will be handled natively through a retooled SteelHead OS running on a standard Riverbed appliance.

Both open shortest path first and Border Gateway Protocol routing will be supported, and Riverbed said the new platform will swap out current CLI programming in favor of drag-and-drop management.

Other SD-WAN services will also be available, including service chaining for both Riverbed and third-party applications.

"[SD-WAN] is one of the last pieces we're embarking on; lots of customers are interested in leveraging their WAN optimization," Joshua Dobies, Riverbed's senior director of product marketing and strategy, said about Project Tiger.

The SD-WAN market initiative reflects the industry's growing interest in new WAN delivery models -- particularly those anchored by software-defined networking.

User survey underscores interest in SD-WAN architecture

Riverbed said a recent survey it conducted at this year's VMworld confirmed that interest. While only 5% of 260 respondents polled said they were using an SD-WAN architecture at their organizations, another 29% said the technology is on their radar screens, said Paul O'Farrell, senior vice president and general manager of Riverbed's SteelHead and SteelFusion divisions.

IT likes to be uber centralized while business likes to be wherever business gets done.
Joshua Dobiessenior director of product marketing and strategy, Riverbed

"The Riverbed software-defined survey shows that with the increasing complexity of today's hybrid IT environments, organizations seek better ways to have full visibility and deliver applications across their distributed enterprise," he said.

Respondents said the ability to rapidly deploy applications was the primary factor driving the adoption of software-defined technologies that include SD-WAN. They also expected the new approaches will cut costs and reduce errors associated with rolling out new applications and services.

WAN optimization vendors traditionally focused on different forms of application acceleration, but with WAN conduits increasingly pinched by soaring numbers of mobile workers requiring robust and secure access to applications, suppliers like Riverbed anticipate a rapid embrace of SD-WAN.

Growth of distributed offices transforming WAN

The market's growth is also being fueled by organizations needing to connect a large number of branch offices sprinkled across large geographic areas, Dobies said.

At the same time, enterprises are facing challenges managing bandwidth as file sizes grow larger and rich media and video place greater strain on existing systems. The rise of cloud computing, meantime, threatens application performance and companies are facing rising bandwidth and management costs that WAN optimization seeks to remedy.

"IT likes to be uber centralized while business likes to be wherever business gets done: at hospitals, consulting offices, [or] the middle of the ocean," Dobies said. With the next generation of Riverbed SD-WAN market products, he said the company re-examined the notion of a distributed world to see "what is preventing IT and business from being friends."

"It's just untenable; these systems weren't built to be this agile. [They were] built around stability and being not very changeable. … We're trying to be more operationally efficient, especially with remote sites."

Next Steps

New WAN optimization viewpoints

Buyers eye WAN optimization tools purchasing

Clarifying the WAN marketplace


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