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Updated Riverbed SteelHead and SteelCentral combine APM, WOCs

Riverbed SteelHead and SteelCentral have been updated and integrated to help enterprises grapple with their new 'hybrid networks.'

Riverbed Technology has introduced tighter integration between its WAN optimization and application performance management products for enterprises. Riverbed SteelHead 9.0 and SteelCentral AppResponse 9.5 platforms allow enterprises to combine acceleration and performance management.

Many businesses are adopting hybrid WAN architectures to facilitate a mix of on-premises and cloud-based applications. This hybrid traffic flows across tried-and-true WAN links, as well as public Internet to reach users, servers and cloud services. IT teams need better visibility and control over such a complex environment.

The new integrations between Riverbed SteelHead and SteelCentral AppResponse will give enterprises visibility into all of their network resources and a better way to ensure the security, performance and optimization of all on-premises and cloud-based applications.

"There's a greater depth of information now coming from SteelHead that can be harvested and fed into the SteelCentral AppResponse tool for a more complete monitoring solution," said Jim Frey, vice president for research in network management at Enterprise Management Associates (EMA), based in Boulder, Colo.

Combined Riverbed SteelHead, SteelCentral ties APM into WAN optimization

Riverbed SteelCentral AppResponse 9.5, combined with the SteelHead 9.0 platform, can monitor, troubleshoot and measure the user experience for both SteelHead-optimized and non-optimized Web and SaaS-based applications through the SteelCentral controller, formally known as Riverbed's Central Management Console. The integration will allow IT to seek out any bottlenecks, and have the visibility to know if the problem is with the network, server or SaaS provider, said Heidi Gabrielson, director of product marketing for Riverbed's SteelCentral line.

Riverbed is also introducing SteelFlow, a SteelCentral function that provides telemetry to the product portfolio for deep analytics and visibility into end user experience, said Amol Kabe, vice president of product management for Riverbed.

"These integrations offer a good set of connection points between the different product lines, but there's more work to be done to deliver more automated, preventative responses to problems -- IT has the tools to fix a problem, but it's still mostly reactive," EMA's Frey said. "No [vendor] has that part figured out yet," he said.

Riverbed has updated SteelHead to identify and optimize over 1,100 on-premises, cloud and SaaS applications. It can distinguish between business-critical apps and lower-priority apps. SteelHead 9.0 can automate SLA activation for different application types, and uses its Path Selection feature to send high-priority apps over MPLS -- such as Microsoft Lync voice traffic -- and route less critical apps over the Internet to help save businesses money, while ensuring high performance when needed.

"SteelHead 9.0 solves problems [such as] how do I move to a hybrid network, and yet, as a network architect, be able to provide viability and control that my users need to have an enterprise-class experience with applications?" Kabe said.

In addition to route selection, SteelHead 9.0 also allows customers to secure the application path over the public Internet via a new feature called Secure Transport that allows all traffic between SteelHead appliances to be encrypted.

SteelHead 9.0 also includes Riverbed's Geo IQ feature for Microsoft Office 365, which guarantees users have an optimized Office 365 experience by always being connected to the native mailbox, regardless of mailbox or user location, the San Francisco-based company said.

Riverbed APM, WAN optimization addresses hybrid networks

While Riverbed isn't the only vendor reworking its WAN optimization to address hybrid networks, the vendor is staying ahead of the curve, and the new integration between SteelHead and SteelCentral is responsive to customer needs, said Brad Casemore, research director for IDC, based in Framingham, Mass.

Intelligent path selection across the WAN is needed because enterprises are relying on different network resources, such as MPLS, broadband Internet and 3G and 4G carrier networks. "WAN optimization isn't just optimizing traffic between a client and a server in a data center with a very predicable WAN -- we are now in the era of cloud, so the nature of WAN optimization is going through a pretty big overhaul because the same variables are not at play anymore," Casemore said.

Customers want a more cost-effective WAN, and combining APM and WAN optimization will help, EMA's Frey said. Enterprises don't want to pay for bandwidth upgrades and additional MPLS links if they can avoid it. "The integration is a better, faster, cheaper way to get to a better position with more visibility," he said.

Let us know what you think about the story; email Gina Narcisi, news writer, and follow @GeeNarcisi on Twitter.

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