Riverbed Technology announced AppResponse Xpert 6000, a combined application performance management (APM) and network performance management (NPM) appliance based on its Cascade product and technology from its recent Opnet acquisition.
The combined Riverbed-OpNet product will help enterprises manage cloud services and mobility, which are forcing IT departments to consolidate and requiring better network intelligence across all IT operations. The converged Riverbed Cascade and Opnet product lines combine two data sets that IT organizations have historically treated as separate entities.
"Network [performance management] and application performance management coming together is very important," said Jim Frey, research director at Enterprise Management Associates (EMA). "Many IT teams are starting to realize they need to bring together these separate sets of data, because they need all the viewpoints they can get to make sure applications and data traveling across the infrastructure are performing well and reaching end users and customers."
Riverbed-Opnet technologies: Broadening out IT's view
The new Riverbed Opnet AppResponse Xpert (ARX) 6000 appliance includes the Cascade Shark Module, which will help enable NPM and APM integration by tying together application transactions and deep packet analysis on a single tool, said Michael Cucchi, senior director of product marketing at Riverbed. The combined technology will enable more consistent and reliable application performance for end users, as enterprises virtualize their data centers, consolidate branch offices and support more mobile users, he said.
"The Shark module is very effective with working with very detailed packet captures. ARX uses packet capture data for higher-level performance monitoring and management, so it gets APM-like intelligence," Cucchi said. "IT gets a tool that's good for deep-diving packet work, fully embedded in a device with much broader APM capabilities."
The IT team for Oppenheimer & Co., an investment banking and financial advisory services firm, already benefits from the single-pane-of-glass NPM vantage point that Riverbed Cascade gives IT, said Henry Jiang, executive director for data center, network and data security for Oppenheimer. The firm's network operations center will be deploying the Riverbed Opnet ARX 6000 appliance to add APM analytics to IT's dashboard, he said.
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While Riverbed Cascade can only collect network-related data sets, the ARX appliance would help fill a hole that exists within Oppenheimer's IT analytics. "If the network performance is not an issue -- which we can identify already with Cascade -- beyond that, we have no visibility into the user experience and application performance," he said.
Oppenheimer's central IT team relies on one dashboard to quickly identify network performance issues for its 100 remote offices and end users. While adding APM is important to Jiang and his team, having more tools for IT to toggle between isn't always an efficient IT support model, he said. "It's extremely important for us to maintain our single-pane-of-glass viewpoint," Jiang said.
The new Riverbed-Opnet technology integration will allow Jiang's entire IT team to help with troubleshooting -- whether it's application performance- or network performance-related.
"The integration will give that much needed visibility to the entire network operations center, not just the developer of the application," he said.
Combining NPM and APM for converging IT roles
Many enterprises monitor their infrastructure with separate NPM and APM tools. Others, like Oppenheimer, have gone without APM tools completely. While APM tools monitor applications from within the data center and NPM tools that monitor the transport layer, the two are very much connected, EMA's Frey said.
"[APM and NPM] are both practical sets of data on their own, but bringing them together allows IT to even more quickly assess problems when they arise," he said. "This convergence will also give IT a better understanding the relationships between what happens at the network layer, as well as the application layer."
The combination of NPM and APM capabilities may also be able to push IT past the traditional "war room" mentality, where networking tools were owned and operated by separate groups, Frey said. "The discussion has been too much about 'whose tool is right?' rather than 'what's going on?'" he said.
While IT may have a long way to go, taking advantage of management technologies that bring data sets together can help unify IT teams. "IT needs to move out of the tactical approaches into more of a services-oriented preventative mode of operations," he said.