In a move to revolutionise networking, application performance company Riverbed Technology has launched Riverbed SteelConnect, an SD-WAN (software-defined wide area network) solution that the company asserts offers a radically new approach to networking in a cloud-centric world.
Riverbed explained that SteelConnect has been designed to enable business-intent policies for applications to provide the performance and agility enterprises need today. To this end, SteelConnect has the distinction of being one of the industry’s first products to unify network connectivity and orchestration of application delivery across hybrid WANs, remote LANs and cloud networks such as Amazon Web Services (available today) and Microsoft Azure (later this year).
With a fully integrated line of secure WAN gateways, remote LAN switches and Wi-Fi access points, all managed centrally through a cloud console with a graphical user interface, SteelConnect simplifies and streamlines the process of designing, deploying and managing distributed networks. This enables organisations to modernise their network architecture in order to realise the full potential of digital transformation.
“The market is going through one of the largest transformations ever, with organisations moving quickly to adopt more digital and cloud services and hybrid networks,” said Jerry M. Kennelly, Riverbed chairman and chief executive officer. “Unfortunately, legacy approaches to managing distributed networks and routing – which are hardware-bound, hard-coded, inflexible and error-prone – haven’t changed much in 20 years.
We believe SteelConnect has the potential to disrupt the multi-billion dollar branch office router market and re-define networking as we know it today. With SteelConnect, we’re delivering an application-defined networking solution that leverages Riverbed’s application DNA and integrates industry-leading visibility, to provide the agility, simplicity and speed enterprises need to manage today’s complex cloud and hybrid architectures.”
The announcement comes in the wake of industry analyst projections indicating enormous pent-up demand for newer and better approaches to networking. Gartner expects SD-WAN uptake to grow from less than 1% of enterprises today to 30% of enterprises by the end of 2019, and IDC expects the worldwide SD-WAN market to grow from less than $225 million in 2015 to more than $6 billion in 2020.
“We’re seeing very strong interest in SD-WAN, driven by the complexity in hybrid clouds and networks, the need to drive efficiencies, and the desire for flexibility to easily shift workloads and deploy new applications and services,” said Brad Casemore, research director at IDC.
Casemore also gave Riverbed a thumbs up, noting that the company is, “well positioned in the emerging market for SD-WAN and the broader enterprise branch networking opportunity, with a differentiated initial offering in SteelConnect, and a strategic roadmap that leverages Riverbed’s experience providing network and application visibility and optimisation.”
It seems as though SteelConnect is a significant development to come from the company, and one which could have far reaching impact on the industry as well. “SteelConnect represents a complete rethink of how networks should be built and managed in today’s cloud-centric world,” explained Paul O’Farrell, senior vice president and general manager of Riverbed’s SteelConnect, SteelHead and SteelFusion business units.
“SteelConnect provides a new experience of networking for both IT and business, where deploying and managing network services is as intuitive as downloading apps onto your smart phone and as instant as spinning up compute and storage resources into a public cloud,” he elaborated.
Single-Click and Instant Provisioning Into Cloud Networks
So what is all the fuss about, you may be wondering? SteelConnect uniquely provides single-click and instant provisioning of secure WAN gateways into cloud environments as part of the broader solution, unifying the management workflow and policy-based orchestration of both on-premises and cloud network environments. In a world in which businesses are increasingly using private and public cloud-based infrastructure solutions, this should be a boon.
“SteelConnect is a compelling SD-WAN solution in AWS Marketplace, as it provides customers with an easy-to-manage solution that delivers agility, security and performance for hybrid architectures,” said Barry Russell, general manager of Global Business Development, AWS Marketplace and Catalog Services, Amazon Web Services. “The availability of SteelConnect in AWS Marketplace provides customers with a streamlined way to immediately purchase and deploy the application-centric software-defined solutions IT organisations need to evolve their networks to meet the demands of the business,” he continued.
Abilities in a nutshell
Furthermore, Riverbed says the SteelConnect system is designed to address modern challenges associated with ensuring fast, agile and secure delivery of applications across a hybrid enterprise with a unique set of capabilities:
Unified Connectivity & Management Across WAN, Remote LAN & Cloud Networks: SteelConnect provides a software-defined and application-defined connectivity fabric that spans WANs, remote office LANs and cloud infrastructure networks through a line of physical, virtual and cloud-based WAN gateways, as well as remote LAN switches and Wi-Fi access points.
Business-aligned Orchestration: Instead of managing networks through configuration of individual appliances, SteelConnect provides policy-based orchestration that is naturally aligned to the language and priorities of business: Applications, Users, Locations, Performance SLAs and Security requirements. An IT network architect can now easily set up global or local policies such as: send all video application traffic over the highest-capacity circuits; send software updates over Internet broadband circuits; or send all business traffic over secure VPNs. Previously network operators needed to enter hundreds or thousands of lines of CLI (command line interface) code to make network and application changes, which is both inefficient and prone to human error.
Cloud-based Management Experience: SteelConnect provides an intuitive graphical user interface that supports an agile and intent-based workflow for managing networks. With SteelConnect, operators can design every aspect of a distributed network before deploying any hardware. Zero-touch provisioning then provides instant deployment of physical devices into a network. Central management of global network policies enables agile and efficient updates to support business requirements.
Ubiquitous & Industry-Leading Visibility: SteelConnect provides complete visibility of all users and devices connected to a distributed network, and supports industry-leading NPM and APM capabilities from Riverbed SteelCentral natively integrated into the SteelConnect central management console.
SteelConnect is available from today through Riverbed’s Early Access Program, with general availability for SteelConnect planned for later this year. Interested parties can visit www.riverbed.com/SteelConnect for more information and how to register for the SteelConnect Early Access Program.