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

Disclosure Statement
Cisco Certified 20 Years

NetCraftsmen Services

Did you know that NetCraftsmen does network /datacenter / security / collaboration design / design review? Or that we have deep UC&C experts on staff, including @ucguerilla? For more information, contact us at info@netcraftsmen.com.

Leave a Reply


Nick Kelly

Cybersecurity Engineer, Cisco

Nick has over 20 years of experience in Security Operations and Security Sales. He is an avid student of cybersecurity and regularly engages with the Infosec community at events like BSides, RVASec, Derbycon and more. The son of an FBI forensics director, Nick holds a B.S. in Criminal Justice and is one of Cisco’s Fire Jumper Elite members. When he’s not working, he writes cyberpunk and punches aliens on his Playstation.


Virgilio “BONG” dela Cruz Jr.

CCDP, CCNA V, CCNP, Cisco IPS Express Security for AM/EE
Field Solutions Architect, Tech Data

Virgilio “Bong” has sixteen years of professional experience in IT industry from academe, technical and customer support, pre-sales, post sales, project management, training and enablement. He has worked in Cisco Technical Assistance Center (TAC) as a member of the WAN and LAN Switching team. Bong now works for Tech Data as the Field Solutions Architect with a focus on Cisco Security and holds a few Cisco certifications including Fire Jumper Elite.


John Cavanaugh

CCIE #1066, CCDE #20070002, CCAr
Chief Technology Officer, Practice Lead Security Services, NetCraftsmen

John is our CTO and the practice lead for a talented team of consultants focused on designing and delivering scalable and secure infrastructure solutions to customers across multiple industry verticals and technologies. Previously he has held several positions including Executive Director/Chief Architect for Global Network Services at JPMorgan Chase. In that capacity, he led a team managing network architecture and services.  Prior to his role at JPMorgan Chase, John was a Distinguished Engineer at Cisco working across a number of verticals including Higher Education, Finance, Retail, Government, and Health Care.

He is an expert in working with groups to identify business needs, and align technology strategies to enable business strategies, building in agility and scalability to allow for future changes. John is experienced in the architecture and design of highly available, secure, network infrastructure and data centers, and has worked on projects worldwide. He has worked in both the business and regulatory environments for the design and deployment of complex IT infrastructures.