Partners: Riverbed Hits SD-WAN Home Run With Plan To Acquire Xirrus

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.

[Related: Riverbed To Acquire Xirrus To Boost SD-WAN And Cloud Networking Solutions]

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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.

With the SD-WAN industry moving at a rapid pace, partners are urging Riverbed to implement Xirrus technology into the company as soon as possible to give the channel a leg up on the competition in 2017.

"It will ultimately come down to how fast Riverbed can integrate it and get it to market while others are currently out there already delivering more mature solutions," said RoundTower's Steele. "At the end of the day, though, it's software-defined, and it will only get better with time."

Financial terms of the acquisition were not disclosed. Riverbed expects to close on the Xirrus deal in April.