During the first week of November, Riverbed held its first combined OPNET and Riverbed user conference at the San Jose Convention Center. Held in tandem with the Riverbed industry analyst event, this conference was an opportunity for Riverbed to share with both customers and industry analysts the company’s vision for becoming the go-to vendor for application performance in hybrid IT infrastructures. This is not a radical departure for Riverbed, but rather the culmination of two years of work toward integrating the Steelhead and OPNET product portfolios. Earlier in the year the company went through a rebranding exercise to create a more unified feel to the product portfolios (see my May 2014 blog post). In subsequent releases the company has increased functionality and added more features that address both cloud and product integrations. At November’s conference, Riverbed showcased how customers can get more from their current investments and leverage them to help solve the problems of visibility, control, and optimization in hybrid environments.

Riverbed Addresses New Challenges of Cloud

Companies want to be able to leverage cloud deployments without sacrificing security or performance. But while private clouds offer end-to-end control, they may introduce performance challenges of their own. And hybrid clouds not only reduce visibility and control, as they involve moving a portion of the deployment outside the corporate firewall, but also can introduce new performance issues as well. Recent research by EMA shows that enterprise customers are struggling with these challenges in deploying hybrid cloud environments. In the rush to embrace cloud technologies, companies often fail to comprehend what they might be giving up in terms of their ability to effectively manage end-to-end connectivity and application performance. To help companies reduce their blind spots and improve performance, Riverbed is leveraging their extensive portfolio and adding more integration points. For a more in-depth look at these integrations, Jim Frey provides more detail regarding Riverbed’s combined Steelhead/SteelCentral AppResponse approach in the EMA white paper “Solving the Application Performance Dilemma in the Hybrid Enterprise.”

FORCE Highlights

The key takeaways from the FORCE 2014 conference include the following:

  • Updates to Steelhead and SteelCentral AppResponse – The company announced updates both to the core Steelhead platform and to the SteelCentral AppResponse platforms that provide tighter product integration as well as new features to address the challenges of hybrid computing environments. At the time of the launch, this includes visibility into the following application and cloud environments (with more forthcoming):
    • Amazon Web Services (AWS)
    • Office 365
    • salesforce.com
    • VMware
    • Windows Azure
  • Riverbed-Ready Alliance Program launched – The Riverbed-Ready Alliance Program is designed to encourage third parties to develop solutions that integrate with the Riverbed platform. The program offers three levels of membership: silver, gold, and platinum. The higher levels of membership offer greater integration opportunities, and only gold and platinum members will be eligible for the Riverbed-Ready Tested logo.
  • Updates to the SteelFlow communication protocol. SteelFlow  is the “secret sauce” that enables data sharing between the Steelhead and SteelCentral AppResponse platforms as well as provides end-user experience measurements for AppResponse and flow data for use in NetProfiler.

These updates will be made available in Q4 of 2014, and the timing could not be better. IT departments struggle to retain management, control, and visibility as they respond to mandates to move toward new compute designs. While these mandates usually come from higher up in the company, the internal IT operations teams know that they will still be held accountable when something breaks, even if the issue is outside their direct control. Riverbed enables these IT teams to leverage their existing visibility and control to tackle the difficult task of managing elements both inside and outside the data center.