Riverbed Unleashes Stingray Family: ADC, Firewall, WCO Tools

acquisitions of Zeus Technology and Aptimize

The new product family, dubbed Stingray, includes application delivery controllers (ADCs), Web application firewalls and Web content optimization (WCO) tools. Most of the technology comes from ADC vendor Zeus and WCO specialist Aptimize. Riverbed, however, has added its own scripting language plus a range of features to make the technologies compatible with its existing WAN optimization appliances and other products.

"The whole idea behind Stingray is asymmetric optimization -- that is, they only need to be delivered from the data center whether that data center is a private or public cloud," said Apurva Dave, vice president of marketing and product management, Stingray Business Unit, who emphasized that the products that form the Stingray family now constitute Riverbed's "asymmetric optimization strategy."

Riverbed is making Stingray 8.0 products available for SMB customers all the way up to large enterprises; it also will sell them under more op-ex-friendly, monthly subscription pricing schemes. For channel partners, that will translate to perpetual license and term contract subscription SKUs.

The Stingray Traffic Manager, based on Zeus' virtual ADCs, is available in virtual and software-based configurations and offers a single point of management for enterprise applications hosted on servers. There are three Traffic Manager lines -- the 1000, 2000 and 4000 series -- ranging in price from $5,500 to $63,500 for licenses or available as a monthly subscription starting at $200 a month. The more higher end a customer goes, the larger the throughput capacity and the more features available.

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"There are lots of good ADCs out there, but many have a legacy approach compared to the way data centers are moving today," Dave said. "We want to deliver performance in any kind of circumstance the customer cares about."

That was the prime motivator for Riverbed to acquire Zeus and not another ADC vendor, he said.

"We looked at who best fit into the concept of cloud, and Zeus was not designed with custom hardware in mind," Dave said. "It's the ability to have it be packaged up for as many different cloud providers as possible."

Next up is the Stingray Web Application Firewall, also built on technology that came through Zeus. It covers Web applications against threats and also offers PCI-DSS and other forms of data security compliance, according to Riverbed, which will sell the Web Application Firewall as an add-on to the Traffic Manager or as a stand-alone product. The add-on is priced between $10,500 and $25,500 list.

The last product is the Stingray Aptimizer, which offers faster delivery of both internal Web applications, such as in Microsoft SharePoint, and external Web applications. It's a natural complement to WAN optimization and similar, data center-centric technologies, said Dave, because many Web sites have hundreds of file requests and plenty going on in the network that can impact overall performance. Riverbed claims the Aptimizer can accelerate Web site performance as much as 400 percent in some cases.

Riverbed will offer Aptimizer as a license starting at about $15 a seat, and it will work with Riverbed technology environments, such as its Steelhead WAN optimization appliances, or with products from other vendors.

For many of Riverbed's partners, Dave added, the Aptimize technology will be new.

"They were a relatively small company and had no channel strategy," Dave explained. "So we're able to bring this technology to the channel and our partners."

Dave acknowledged that several of Riverbed's major channel partners already carry application delivery technology from other vendors, particularly F5 Networks and Cisco. The hook for Riverbed, he explained, is the full integration between symmetric and asymmetric optimization tools -- in other words, a way for partners to offer customers solutions for network problems, application problems and Web content delivery problems, all of which can affect customer experience and harm performance.

"What Riverbed does that no one else does is that we can take these technologies and tie them together with realtime visibility capabilities and dashboards," Dave said. "They're really good quality products that you can use stand-alone, but we offer a unique vision for integrating them and offering performance strategy across your enterprise. No one else has really crafted this end-to-end vision of performance."

The entire Stingray line is available immediately, and Riverbed will enable all partners to become certified to sell it.