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Riverbed acquires Ocedo to move faster in SD-WAN market

Riverbed plans to use its recent acquisition of Ocedo to quicken the pace of delivering products in the SD-WAN market.

Riverbed Technology, which recently jumped into the fast-growing software-defined WAN market, is hoping to speed up product delivery with the acquisition of Ocedo, a startup that provides the networking technology as a cloud-managed service.

Riverbed, an application performance management vendor, announced this week that it had acquired the German company, which launched its first product about a year ago. Privately held Riverbed did not disclose financial details.

Riverbed unveiled plans last October for entering an SD-WAN market packed with companies ranging from traditional vendors to upstarts. A sampling of the many companies includes Cisco, Viptela, CloudGenix, Silver Peak Systems and VeloCloud.

The vendors are competing for the pocketbooks of the 30% of enterprises that will deploy SD-WAN technology in their branches by 2019, according to Gartner. The number of companies today using an SD-WAN is less than 1%.

Riverbed plans to combine Ocedo technology with its hybrid WAN product, which leverages application-aware business logic and policies to direct network traffic to the most cost-effective link. Among the critical features that Riverbed can add to Ocedo products are deep packet inspection (DPI) and quality-of-service technology. The latter ensures specified traffic gets priority routing when needed.

Ocedo products include LAN switches, an SD-WAN gateway and Wi-Fi access points. The company delivers an SD-WAN as a cloud-managed service, on-premises software or through Amazon Web Services.

Riverbed product roadmap for SD-WAN market

Riverbed plans to release its first joint product by the end of March.

"We'll build on that throughout the year," said Paul O'Farrell, general manager of Riverbed's SteelHead products group. "We have a very aggressive timeline and roadmap, which will have releases coming essentially every quarter."

In October, Riverbed introduced Project Tiger, an SD-WAN initiative in which the company would retool its SteelHead operating system to handle routing across a branch network. The software would run on a standard Riverbed appliance.

O'Farrell, however, acknowledged that it needed to move faster to prevent competitors from pulling too far ahead in the market. "We were battling against a window of opportunity that we felt was going to be quite narrow, and we really needed to get to market much faster," O'Farrell said in a video on the Riverbed site.

Technologically, Ocedo makes Riverbed a strong competitor in the SD-WAN market, said John Burke, an analyst at Nemertes Research in Mokena, Ill. The hurdle Riverbed faces will be selling technology from a vendor without much name recognition in the large U.S. market.

"Riverbed has enormous name recognition already, of course, but they need to get folks to think of them in a new way," Burke said. "An acquisition with more of a name in SD-WAN in the U.S. would have helped more in that respect."

Nevertheless, Riverbed decided that Ocedo's engineering team and technology overrode the fact the startup was an unknown. "We surveyed the market, and Ocedo was by far the best fit for us," said Josh Dobies, senior director of product marketing at Riverbed.

Riverbed believes combining its IT infrastructure technology with Ocedo's products will deliver a unique SD-WAN offering, Dobies said. Riverbed's DPI technology, for example, can identify and route encrypted application traffic without compromising security. The company can also add technology that monitors network and application performance in the data center and the cloud.

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