Riverbed Platform Update Covers Video, VDI, Holistic Optimization

The idea, according to Riverbed executives, is that Riverbed's range of products will now be able to cover the optimization of any type of application an enterprise business customer cares about, from virtual desktop infrastructure to security. They also want to arm Riverbed solution providers that have broadened their optimization practices well beyond basic WAN a more holistic set of solutions.

RiOS 7.0 includes native stream-splitting capabilities over HTTP, a form of video optimization -- also known as application layer multicasting -- in which a single video stream can serve many viewers over a particular location while simultaneously freeing up bandwidth for other applications on the WAN. Riverbed is driving integrated product sets around that capability with partner vendors like Adobe, MediaPlatform, Qumu and Polycom. Riverbed can offer native stream splitting for Adobe Flash over HTTP, and live video stream splitting for Microsoft Silverlight.

Naveen Prabhu, senior product marketing manager at Riverbed, said the focus of Riverbed's 7.0 release of RiOS was to target areas that require optimization but will also need to optimized in the future. The steady growth of video communications in the enterprise was one obvious answer, he said.

"We're delivering optimization for the apps they're already deploying, but also the apps they're going to deploy in the future," Prabhu said.

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The 7.0 update also includes enhancements for optimizing TCP/IP and UDP applications, including replication. It further offers support in those protocols over IPv6, which will become more important as enterprises follow service providers and government customers into IPv6 infrastructure upgrades over the next few years.

On the VDI front, Riverbed already offers optimization flexibility for Citrix XenApp, Citrix XenDesktop, VMware View, Microsoft RDP and Microsoft RemoteFX deployments. And the 7.0 release is adding capabilities for ICA (independent computing architecture) over SSL, plus a client drive mapping feature for optimizing content accessed via a thin client.

In addition, Riverbed's Cascade Shark, which provides on-demand packet capture and packet analysis, is now fully integrated into Riverbed Steelhead appliances, meaning Steelhead can be used for branch monitoring and network performance management, and partners no longer need to sell Cascade Shark as a standalone product.

That point is important, said Prabhu, and reflects a more recent move by Riverbed to more tightly integrate the various pieces of its portfolio so VARs have an easier time selling more of it.

"It allows our channel partners to sell more solutions based on the value derived from both solutions," Prabhu said of the Cascade Shark integration. "Having a WAN optimization [practice] enables the partners to sell these solutions but also combine different elements of their portfolio into a single solution for the customer. So for the customers, it's two plus two equals five."

Another recent product launch from Riverbed, for example -- the Stingray line of application and acceleration-centric technologies bred from its acquisitions of Zeus Technology and Aptimize earlier this year -- targeted solution providers that wanted to sell various optimization technologies as a full solute set, from WAN appliances to application layer.

Another example of that in RiOS 7.0 is the integration of Riverbed Skipware, the proprietary commercial implementation of the Space Communications Protocol Standard (SCPS) for U.S. Department of Defense satellite networks. Riverbed gained the technology through its Nov. 2010 acquisition of Global Protocols, and previously, Skipware was only available as part of the Riverbed Services Platform.

Specific to security, RiOS 7.0 also offers encrypted Lotus Notes, optimization for Microsoft Online services such as SharePoint Online and Office Live, and end-to-end Kerberos authentication support.

The 7.0 update is generally available to Riverbed customers as of the fourth quarter of 2011.