Riverbed Enhanced SD-WAN

Peter Welcher
Architect, Operations Technical Advisor

This is one of several blogs about the vendor presentations during Network Field Day 19, which took place November 7-9, 2018. This blog contains a summary of the vendor presentation and any related comments or opinions I might have (I’ll share at least some of them).

If this blog motivates you to greater interest in what the vendor had to say, you can find the cleaned up streaming video of their presentations at the Tech Field Day YouTube channel, specifically the NFD19 playlist, or by clicking on the vendor’s logo on the main #NFD19 web page (linked above).

It seems like every time I visit their website, Riverbed has added another interesting product or line of business. That makes Riverbed as a company hard to describe briefly.

Riverbed’s #NFD19 presentations focused on its SD-WAN products.

Riverbed SD-WAN

I’d describe the overall SD-WAN space as being populated by far too many vendors, each seeking to differentiate its product.

Riverbed’s presentation made it clear they’re on their game with a comfortable looking GUI and a solid set of features. Riverbed emphasized that they seek to maximize digital experience and performance.

Riverbed’s prior presence in the WAN space was the SteelConnect SDI gateway, now positioned as primarily for Internet transport. Steelhead SD updates that with SD-WAN, more powerful routing, performance, and security, for Internet + MPLS transports. The SD line includes a “native firewall”. The two families are interoperable with in-field upgrade possible. WAN optimization is available. Both physical and virtual appliances are available.

Riverbed supports defining path preference based on business policy. Load balancing is also available. Probes are inserted into packets or sent on their own every 60 seconds if there is no traffic.

IP multicast is on Riverbed’s roadmap.

Riverbed also sells a Transaction Analyzer that can help troubleshoot. It reports on causes of latency (net transfer, server and client).

One presentation aspect to note: Riverbed talked some about BGP, multi-area OSPF, high availability. The SD devices can be used simply, but can integrate with existing transports of some complexity, if needed. The overall message was that Riverbed can do a lot, with GUI simplicity hiding the complexity. From experience, with any vendor, one wants to be very careful about keeping underlay and overlay routing separate, modulo providing connectivity back to the SD-WAN controller.

The Riverbed GUI allows control of Internet path per application, including “Internet breakout”. One choice is integrations with a security service such as zScaler.

One of the recorded videos shows Brandon Carroll demonstrating SteelConnect Manager, performing new site setup and configuring some features. Creating a “shadow appliance” allowed pre-populating the GUI with the device type, prior to site deployment. Recommended viewing!

Riverbed Key Points

Riverbed’s SD-WAN focus and key selling points can be seen in a 11/14/2018 press release. Recent enhancements (somewhat covered above):

  • Enterprise-class routing: Major enhancements to the core routing stack enables support for large and complex enterprise networks where needed.
  • Subscription-based pricing: Riverbed is introducing disruptive OpEx-friendly, subscription-based pricing for SD-WAN-only and SD-WAN + WAN Optimization customers.
  • In-field upgrades: Existing customers have access to an enhanced in-field upgrade to expand the capabilities of prior investments to include advanced SD-WAN, network security services and industry-leading WAN Optimization.
  • Simple and complete integration: Comprehensive WAN Edge solution combines SD-WAN, application acceleration, visibility and security capabilities into a single device.

See also: https://www.riverbed.com/products/steelhead/steelhead-sd-wan.html.


Comments are welcome, both in agreement or constructive disagreement about the above. I enjoy hearing from readers and carrying on deeper discussion via comments. Thanks in advance!


Hashtags: #CiscoChampion #TheNetCraftsmenWay #Riverbed#SDWAN #NFD19

Twitter: @pjwelcher

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