Network Innovation competition: Riverbed Cascade 10.0

Riverbed Technology is the April recipient of SearchNetworking's award for creating its quality performance management application.

Editor's note: Riverbed Technology Inc. is the winner of the April SearchNetworking.com Network Innovation Award for its Cascade 10.0 performance management app. Riverbed introduced the software upgrade last fall, adding support for such functions as virtual desktop infrastructure, server virtualization and virtualized data centers using VXLAN software-defined networks.

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Among other features, the application is designed to help IT administrators bridge the visibility gap between their oversight of physical and virtual networks. To get an idea of the work behind Cascade 10.0 and why it is the winner of the network innovation competition, SearchNetworking site editor Chuck Moozakis spoke to Dimitri Vlachos, Riverbed's vice president of marketing.

SearchNetworking: What was the motivation behind the development of Cascade 10.0?

Dimitri Vlachos: When you step back and look at the first wave of virtualization -- server virtualizations -- roughly 50% to 60% of all Intel workloads are now virtualized. The concept has quickly gone from test environments to production; it's now the de facto way to deploy servers. This transition to virtualized servers brought with it a loss of network performance visibility for IT operators.

The next stage is to virtualize the network with software-defined networking (SDN) and the desktop with virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI). These are the new ways to extend the flexibility and agility of virtualization to networks and end-user devices. SDN enables the spinning up of completely isolated data centers that sit on top of virtualized networks, all sharing the same physical infrastructure. VDI allows the centralized management of desktops for distributed users across an entire enterprise. Like server virtualization, these new technologies bring great advantages but also introduce real visibility and performance management challenges for IT.

Cascade 10.0 provides IT with the performance management and visibility required to roll out these technologies with confidence and the ability to ensure performance and availability.

What are some of the specific challenges facing IT admins as the virtualization market continues to evolve?

Vlachos: Imagine an environment where you are responsible for the performance of applications across a variety of physical and virtual networks. Without 10.0, you cannot see what is actually going on within the virtual networks running atop the physical network, nor can you understand the impact [the virtual networks] are having on the physical network.

With 10.0, networking teams can embrace the benefits of network and desktop virtualization without losing the visibility and control required to ensure application and network performance.

Specifically, how does Cascade 10.0 provide the visibility network admins are demanding?

The challenge is that traditional methods of measuring application performance and end user experience are blinded by VDI.

Vlachos: Cascade 10.0 understands the overlay networks, the traffic with them and how they interact with the physical network they are delivered across. We worked closely with VMware to get the intelligence necessary to understand the SDN and virtual extended local area network (VXLAN) environment. We look at the apps that are running, the end users consuming them and the servers providing access across physical and virtual networks and across mobile, physical and VDI environments. We can baseline and isolate all of this data to quickly identify performance problems.

What are users saying about network virtualization and SDN?

Vlachos: It's still early, and we are working very closely with our customers. So far, their questions have mostly revolved around ensuring performance and management as they roll out and embrace these next phases of virtualization.

How does the advent of VDI change the management landscape?

Vlachos: VDI brings great simplicity and control to managing patches, OS versions and general desktop management.

The challenge is that traditional methods of measuring application performance and end user experience are blinded by VDI. With Cascade 10.0, IT teams can understand the applications end users are consuming, the performance of these applications and their delivery across the infrastructure regardless of whether end users are leveraging mobile, desktop, laptop or VDI devices.

What are some other areas of performance management that Riverbed addresses?

Vlachos: Going deep into end user experience and application transaction tracing are key performance management areas that complement the topics we have discussed. To truly understand and manage performance, you must see the complete picture, which includes end users' applications and networks. All of these are part of Riverbed's performance management product.

This was first published in May 2013

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