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Riverbed meshing its products to boost remote computing performance

Riverbed Technology lays out roadmap aimed at boosting application performance through tighter integration of its product lines.

Riverbed Technology Inc. is looking to maximize its product offerings as it expands into the application performance infrastructure market.

The San Francisco-based vendor, best known for its WAN optimization technology, has expanded that footprint over the last few years with new products tailored to storage and converged infrastructure and acquisitions of application delivery controller (ADC) and application performance management vendors.

Riverbed is now striving to tie these disparate technologies into a more cohesive whole as it targets what it dubs location-independent computing (LIC), said Rob Whiteley, vice president of solutions marketing for Riverbed.

LIC, Riverbed said, dovetails with the $11 billion application performance infrastructure market, covering a remote computing segment that encompasses technologies engineered to reduce performance issues that affect the transmission of data over long distances and across multiple sites.

Logical extension of virtualizing data centers

"Server virtualization allowed people to consider consolidating all of their resources back and get better utilization out of a central pool," Whiteley said. "There has always been this concept that if you wanted to take advantage of virtualization, distance becomes a variable you care about.

"Now, as you get into software-defined data centers, it's the complete disaggregation of the entire infrastructure, but once again, distance is a key variable," he said.

Riverbed plans to more tightly integrate its products -- Steelhead WAN optimization, Stingray ADCs, Granite storage controllers and Cascade/OpNet performance management -- to offer enterprises a unified platform that addresses an entire range of operational and performance issues related to remote computing and application management.

It's an approach that makes sense, said Zeus Kerravala, principal analyst at ZK Research in Westminster, Mass. "If you look at the trends in mobile, cloud and virtual computing, the whole concept of LIC is real. Riverbed has all the components to do that, but the challenge will be to capitalize on those components. It's a collection of network-based equipment, so if they can get customers to buy on the vision, the likelihood it can accomplish a cross-platform sale increases."

Kerravala said, however, that selling more network gear to financially-pinched customers could be tough sledding. "Most companies don't have the budgets, so although the vision is sound, it's a little bit of where customers are today and what they can afford to buy."

WAN traffic fueling demand for better performance for remote computing efforts

The sheer growth of the data being pumped to remote offices is compelling enterprises to find ways to improve network and application performance. WAN optimization is one piece of the puzzle, but it's an answer that doesn't necessarily speak to other factors that impact application performance.

Strategies to improve performance

Understanding application performance

Going deep with WAN optimization

App performance tips for your network

In Riverbed's case, "we have a lot of intellectual property [that addresses issues that go beyond optimization]. Regardless of technique, it should just work to enable more intuitive-based workflows," Whiteley said.

The vendor is writing more robust application programming interfaces (APIs) to more tightly bundle its products, and it plans to release additional integration software supporting the bundled approach in 2014, Whiteley said. Riverbed is also working with its partners to extend an integrated LIC orchestration engine to third-party products.

"You have to expose all the capabilities. Wouldn't it be nice to tie into, say, a virtualization system that might trigger a move [of data from one data center to the next] and tie into the optimization technologies that allow that to happen in minutes and seconds instead of days or weeks. We need to create that closed loop. We are developing all these APIs to enable the platform to work, but we also need to expose them," he said.

The company will publish the scripts it uses in order to permit organizations to use them in their own operations. The remote computing optimization platform, Whiteley said, is intended to work with equipment and systems from multiple vendors.

Riverbed said it will provide more details about its LIC concept early next year.

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