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Simplify SD-WAN with Riverbed

Riverbed is working in the growing field of SD-WAN. The SD-WAN space seems like it’s ready to explode in 2017. I’m on record as predicting we’ll see the space’s first big IPO this year. Riverbed is growing within the space, having acquired another SD-WAN company, Ocedo, a little over a year ago. The company now has over 300 customers and is currently providing about 1,600 free trials of their software. They’ve been around in the WAN optimization market for a while, and are now starting to combine the two solutions in unified devices.

SD-WAN at its best is a way of flattening a lot of networking concerns into a unified front. Really the hardware is just carving out your network based on whatever you’re using. Riverbed extended this consideration even into the cloud, previously having AWS support. Now the company is offering Azure as well, which effectively gives them comprehensive coverage.

Riverbed thinks the key to their software approach is to get network management out of your way, and to let you enjoy it. With that in mind, their entire solution is based around simplicity of deployment and operation. Setting up your SD-WAN sites is extremely simple. Whenever I see enterprise networking that I think I could do, I know it has to be pretty user-friendly. In the case of Riverbed, a site can be brought on to the network with as little as adding a site placeholder in their dashboard and a hostname. With that, your site is online. These can also be added in bulk an API, especially useful for large migrations.

From there, Riverbed has an entire rules pane in their dashboard to quickly let you configure your options. The speed of getting these was really impressive. They do deep packet inspection on your traffic, either through a cloud server or with their SteelHead SD-WAN appliance. With this, they are easily able to implement your rules. Without SD-WAN, it’s really hard to only let someone use a little bit of the network. You can set some client-side rules, but these can be hard to both monitor and enforce. By controlling the very source of network traffic in software, these are much easier to implement. Administrators can easily deny specific users access to the network, or just specifically block particular sites. This gets very granular, as you may not want to block the site, but simply deprecate the traffic, which the system easily allows you to do. On the other end, you can also prioritize certain site and applications, implement over QoS for users, and guarantee your SLAs, all within the rules dashboard.

Riverbed seems to have a nice offering for enterprises that want to quickly and simply get SD-WAN off the ground, without having to disrupt their current operations. It’s interesting to see that even thought the SD-WAN space is getting crowded, each company seems to have a slightly different focus on who the solution is for. Riverbed really sells itself on it’s simplicity of setup and operation.

About the author

Rich Stroffolino

Rich has been a tech enthusiast since he first used the speech simulator on a Magnavox Odyssey². Current areas of interest include ZFS, the false hopes of memristors, and the oral history of Transmeta.

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