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The New Branch with Riverbed SD-WAN

Remember February? That month that seems like it was years ago? Way back then I was part of the Networking Field Day 22 presentation from Riverbed. I got to listen in as Romain Jourdan and Brandon Carroll talked all about SD-WAN and Riverbed’s perspectives on it. One of the presentations that seemed apropos at the time but didn’t really resonate with me until later was the one about Application Performance-as-a-Service. Here’s the video:

At the time, I thought Riverbed was looking at SD-WAN performance just like every other vendor out there and trying to find a way to accelerate usage of SaaS services in some form or another. The biggest problem back in February with these offerings had more to do with bandwidth than anything else. With SD-WAN accelerating the transition to using commodity broadband circuits over more traditional leased MPLS circuits the plethora of bandwidth was really starting to make the application performance message fade away. Why should I care about this when I have all the bandwidth I could need?

Fast forward four months to the present day. Now we find ourselves at home, working away with all the same applications and a smaller amount of bandwidth. Instead of being able to just toss another broadband circuit at the problem and hope that it goes away, we find ourselves trapped behind a single consumer pipeline that has to be shared with school video calls, Xbox and Playstation game updates, and Netflix running all the time in an effort to keep people at home and flatten the curve.

Home Sweet Office

In the old days of my home office, I didn’t care much about my circuit speed. I was the only one home during the day and my bandwidth was more than sufficient for all my needs. At the height of the pandemic sheltering orders, I had four simultaneous Zoom calls going with my children and my wife for school along with Youtube videos and streaming services flying all over my network. The amount of congestion was starting to reach critical levels. My network wasn’t designed for this!

That’s when I thought back to the Riverbed presentation at Networking Field Day. I realized that application performance configuration wasn’t something you wanted to have to buy on a whim. Imagine how many people were now scrambling to get that performance boost any way they could. Have you ever tried to configure QoS? Have you tried to do it on a consumer router? You know the pain of the arcane command line with enterprise equipment. But the agony of trying to figure out what this manufacturer calls their solution and what you need to tweak to make it work. And that’s just the basics!

As our offices have moved from the commercial workspace to the home workspace, our networking equipment needs to move with it. Instead of hoping that your consumer big box router is going to cut it when it’s time to deploy services, you need to make the leap to something more robust. Riverbed has a variety of devices that can work for you at home. Riverbed also has the capability to tune your applications to do exactly what you need them to do.

Want to shut down bulk game updates? Easy to do. Want to prioritize Microsoft365 traffic? Done. Want to ensure that Zoom calls get priority over Google Hangouts so your business traffic is favored over your kids just chatting with friends? Simple and easy to accomplish. Because Riverbed understands the applications. More than anything else, Riverbed has spent years upon years understanding applications. At first, they needed it to optimize WAN communications through branch offices. But as the branch became something more and SD-WAN enabled the transformation to a cloud-based architecture with SaaS apps leading the way, Riverbed was able to successfully pivot into using their application smarts to accelerate the WAN in a different direction. Now, the purpose of their systems is to make the journey to cloud SaaS easier. The HQ location on your map is no longer where all the traffic goes to play. The branch needs to get onto the cloud.

This branch focus was true at the beginning of the year. Now, every employee is in their own branch location. Can you imagine where we might be right now without SD-WAN? Well, some of you can. Because your systems aren’t set up to handle the traffic load of 2-3 people working and learning from home. But you could get there. You could be running Riverbed SD-WAN and configuring your home “branch” location to run more efficiently. You could be ending your application problems and ensuring that next Triple A game release doesn’t prematurely end your big presentation to the CIO. All you need is a little investment in Riverbed and a chance to configure your setup.

Bringing It All Together

Who could have imagined a world where every house was a branch office? If you’d have told me in January that I’d have a small enterprise running in my house I’m sure I would have laughed at you. Instead, I find myself here and running as hard as I can to keep up with the new demands on my network. I wish I had something as cool as Riverbed SD-WAN to help me keep up with my branch location. Until I can get that figured out though, I’ll be checking back to see what awesome new features they’ve enabled to help me get things rolling in my home office.

About the author

Tom Hollingsworth

Tom Hollingsworth is a networking professional, blogger, and speaker on advanced technology topics. He is also an organizer for networking and wireless for Tech Field Day.  His blog can be found at

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