Riverbed Improves Network Visibility in Steelhead OS, Cascade Software

IT managers have increased network visibility with the Riverbed Steelhead appliance's new Riverbed Optimization Service 6.5 and Cascade 9.0.

Riverbed Technology updated its WAN acceleration and Cascade software to provide customers with better network visibility, the company said Feb. 7.

Riverbed updated the Riverbed Optimization Service to version 6.5 and the Cascade interface to version 9.0. Customers have been asking Riverbed for tools to make it easier to see what is happening on their networks, Nik Rouda, director of solutions and vertical marketing at Riverbed, told eWEEK.

"These two big enhancements tie the functionality of the product further to the business and increase their power," he said.

The software versions give IT managers access to advanced traffic analysis and reporting tools for both Riverbed's Steelhead appliances and Cascade products. With the updated software, Riverbed provides network visibility and management tools to senior executives and to IT managers, Rouda explained.

The high-level overview of how applications are performing on the network is available through the customer dashboard, Rouda said. Network managers can also see how IT resources are being used and reallocate them from the dashboard, he said. The updates will be generally available before the end of March, Riverbed said.

"With a widening variety of applications and services distributed over the network, enterprises require better insight into application performance to make intelligent IT decisions that further business goals," said Joe Skorupa, research vice president at Gartner.

RiOS 6.5 on the Steelhead includes several optimization features, for example, application-specific acceleration for software packages such as Microsoft Outlook Anywhere and optimization for Secure Sockets Layer certificate traffic, Rouda said.

Customers don't have to buy separate analytics tools or fiddle with networking features on routers and other networking hardware to fine-tune IT performance, Rouda said. For example, customers can configure quality-of-service settings directly on the Steelhead appliance via the dashboard, said Rouda. "The QoS [quality-of-service] capabilities in Steelhead have been ramped up," Rouda said.

The AppFlow Classification Engine uses application signature matching, protocol dissection and behavior analysis to provide an accurate view of the network traffic in the most efficient and flexible way, Riverbed said. Administrators previously could see the Web traffic, but the new engine provides drill-down information to see the Web traffic's origin, Rouda said.

Customers can prioritize applications by importance and categorize sites by the bandwidth each site requires. Proper resource allocation is critical for bandwidth-heavy and latency-sensitive applications such as video, voice over IP and Virtual Desktop Infrastructure, Rouda said. Under 6.5, Riverbed appliances can now take latency into consideration when determining the priority of each application, Rouda said.

IT managers can also use built-in templates to effortlessly deploy, use and manage QoS, Rouda said. IT managers would be able to use the unified Web-based Riverbed Central Management Console to configure, monitor, report on and upgrade groups of Steelhead appliances, according to Rouda.

The Cascade update was mainly about improving the dashboard to provide at-a-glance status of all critical servers and applications on the network for network administrators and business executives, Rouda said. IT managers can drill down from the general overview to the location, application and user level for more information, Rouda said. Reports can be generated at the appropriate level of granularity, Rouda said. A new Service Discovery Wizard simplifies the process of discovering a multitier service and configuring its monitoring and dashboards.

Under Cascade 9.0, executives have "a view of essential information," such as how it is performing, in a way they can understand, instead of the traditional "IT perspective," Rouda said.