Partners are cheering Riverbed Technology's move Wednesday to acquire wireless specialist Xirrus, saying it will give the channel more firepower in the fast-growing software-defined WAN market.
"SD-WAN is one of the fastest-growing technologies this year. Riverbed is obviously seeing the opportunity as well and this Xirrus acquisition adds some really great capabilities," said Rob Steele, converged practice lead for RoundTower Technologies, a Cincinnati-based solution provider and Riverbed partner.
Research firm IDC expects the SD-WAN market to grow at a 90 percent compound annual growth rate over the next four years, topping $6 billion by 2020. Research firm Gartner, meanwhile, said that by the end of 2019 30 percent of enterprises will have deployed SD-WAN technology in their branches, up from less than 1 percent in 2015.
Riverbed said it plans to leverage Thousand Oaks, Calif.-based Xirrus' technology to extend Riverbed SteelConnect to the wireless network edge.
San Francisco-based Riverbed touts SteelConnect as a differentiated SD-WAN offering that provides simplicity, network and application intelligence, and agility with centralized and unified management spanning the entire network fabric with policy-based orchestration. SteelConnect also provides connectivity to Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure.
"This could really enhance their portfolio and make SteelConnect a more complete solution," said Pat Grillo, president and CEO of Branchburg, N.J.-based Atrion Communication Resources, which partners with Riverbed.
Grillo said Atrion is seeing more interest from customers around SD-WAN this year with businesses seeking SD-WAN solutions with advanced capabilities, which Xirrus is bringing to the table.
"By combining the advanced Wi-Fi capabilities of Xirrus and SteelConnect's intuitive and powerful orchestration, we're taking a bold step to bring the power of policy-based network management out to the wireless edge," said Paul O'Farrell, senior vice president of the Riverbed SteelConnect, SteelHead and SteelFusion Business Unit, in a statement.
Steele said RoundTower is helping customers transform legacy infrastructure into a software-defined data center to give business more flexibility and agility with their networks compared to traditional router-based WANs. SD-WAN also helps customers connect to cloud environments or to multiple locations while saving money on private connections, such as MPLS.
"SD-WAN becomes a critical piece in this new architecture … it allows customers to take advantage of multiple transport options, enhanced security and automated provisioning," said Steele.
The SD-WAN vendor landscape is heating up with startups raising hundreds of millions in funding over the past year, including VeloCloud, who just nabbed $35 million in a Series D round in March. Master agents like WTG are also jumping into the SD-WAN market.