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Xirrus wireless LAN makes Riverbed WAN portfolio stronger for the branch

The acquisition of wireless LAN provider Xirrus makes the Riverbed WAN portfolio more appealing to companies with branch offices.

Riverbed Technology's acquisition of wireless LAN vendor Xirrus provides the network management company with a strong complement to the software-defined WAN technology Riverbed introduced a year ago.

Riverbed announced this week it would acquire Xirrus by the end of April for an undisclosed sum, making the Riverbed WAN portfolio more attractive to companies with branch offices. Riverbed becomes one of a handful of suppliers with both wireless and SD-WAN portfolios. Others include Cisco and Juniper Networks.

The deal comes a year after Riverbed introduced its first line of SD-WAN products.  The release followed by three months Riverbed's acquisition of Ocedo, a startup that provided SD-WAN as a cloud-managed service. The SD-WAN additions to the Riverbed WAN portfolio placed the vendor in an emerging market expected to reach $6 billion by 2020, according to IDC.

Over time, Riverbed will try to move customers from its older WAN optimization technology to SD-WAN, said Rohit Mehra, an analyst at IDC.

"As they upgrade those WAN optimization customers to SD-WAN, there is an opportunity for Riverbed to [also] provide a holistic, enterprise-grade branch office solution that includes wireless," he said.

Riverbed WAN portfolio stronger for the branch office

Xirrus' line of Wi-Fi access points and switches are found in several vertical markets, including education and large public venues, such as stadiums. The technology also meets the requirements of corporate branch offices, where employees use wireless to connect laptops and mobile devices to the corporate network.

If a vendor wants to meet all the IT and networking needs of a branch office, "then providing enterprise-grade wireless becomes a key requirement," Mehra said.

SD-WAN is policy-driven software that routes and manages network traffic across private and public links, such as leased MPLS and broadband, Long Term Evolution and wireless. SD-WAN technology reduces costs by sending only latency-sensitive packets to highly reliable links, which are the most expensive.

Riverbed first made a name for itself in 2004 with the release of its SteelHead WAN optimization appliances. The company later developed the SteelCentral network performance monitoring system, which has received favorable reviews from experts.

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