Riverbed Offers Inbound Traffic Feature in Steelhead Networking Device

Riverbed's Steelhead WAN optimization appliance can now control both outbound and inbound applications, such as video conferencing, VOIP and SaaS.

Riverbed Technology is adding an inbound quality-of-service (QoS) feature into the software that runs on the company€™s Steelhead WAN optimization appliances, a move that is needed as trends like video and cloud computing increase the amount of network traffic coming in from outside the enterprise.

According to Riverbed officials, businesses no longer are only dealing with applications that originate in central data centers. Now they are increasingly relying on direct-to-Internet and meshed wide area networks (WANs) for such applications as video, voice over IP (VOIP), software as a service (SaaS) and unified communications (UC). At the same time, employees also are increasingly using social media in both their personal and professional lives.

The outbound QoS feature in the company€™s Riverbed Optimization System (RiOS) has been a mainstay in Riverbed€™s WAN optimization offering, enabling IT administrators to ensure the performance of mission-critical back-end business applications. Other vendors have been offering similar capabilities in their solutions.

However, with the growth of Web-based applications, video conferencing, social media and similar trends, enterprises have begun to use what Riverbed officials said are hybrid networks that use both low-cost Internet breakout links that divert Web traffic away from the more costly private networks, and fully meshed multi-protocol label switching (MPLS) connectivity that allows networking traffic to flow directly between branch offices.

Enterprises now must handle critical traffic that is going into and out of central data centers, branch offices and the cloud.

With only outbound QoS available, branch offices connected via a meshed network can become inundated with traffic from multiple senders, according to Eric Carter, senior product marketing manager for Steelhead appliances at Riverbed. For many businesses, having to deal with the rise of inbound traffic meant using separate third-party appliances in particular locations to control bandwidth, which can be costly.

By putting inbound QoS capabilities in its Steelhead appliance, Riverbed is making it easier and less costly for enterprises to handle the growing amount of traffic coming into the network from outside, Carter told eWEEK.

€œThere is a need for inbound [QoS capabilities], and we€™re putting into the Steelhead WAN optimization device,€ he said.

With this feature, announced July 23, enterprises can use a single Steelhead appliance to control both outbound and inbound traffic, ensuring the IT staff can guarantee enough stable bandwidth to give mission-critical€”and in some cases, latency-sensitive€”applications the predictable levels of performance that enterprises need, even as new applications are coming onto the network from disparate delivery sites.

Riverbed officials said they use proprietary classification methods, simple configuration and scheduling techniques to create the company€™s QoS capabilities to enable businesses to allocate minimum and maximum bandwidths and prioritize applications, whether they€™re coming from within or outside the enterprise.

The QoS capabilities are part of a larger WAN optimization portfolio that also includes application, network and protocol optimization and deduplication.