Riverbed Updates SteelHead to Improve SaaS Apps Performance

The latest WAN optimization product release will make it easier for businesses to adopt cloud and SaaS applications in their hybrid environments.

WAN optimization

Riverbed Technology is rolling out the latest version of its SteelHead WAN optimization technology to help organizations ensure the performance of their cloud- and SaaS-based applications.

SteelHead 9.1 comes with an array of new capabilities, including an embedded Web proxy for improved Internet performance, universal software-as-a-service (SaaS) optimization for greater scalability and a new, single universal license for all supported SaaS applications. In addition, the technology—which already supported Salesforce.com and Microsoft Office 365—now enables application optimization for Box, ServiceNow, SAP SuccessFactors and Microsoft Dynamics CRM (customer relationship management).

It comes as enterprises become a more hybrid environment, increasingly using cloud and SaaS applications along with on-premises software. Such new applications allow for greater flexibility, collaboration and speed to market and lower costs. However, they also pose challenges to IT administrators in everything from latency and application performance to quality of service and visibility, particularly as workers become more mobile and access more applications from the cloud.

"As enterprises get into production with SaaS, and as SaaS becomes available outside of the pilot group in headquarters, to all their global locations and branches, they begin consuming more and more SaaS and before they know it, there are issues with end user experience or productivity for reasons pretty unknown or well ... cloudy," Ram Parasuraman, group product manager for mobility, cloud and virtualization for Riverbed, wrote in a post on the company blog. "Network administrators realize that the networks they built for enterprise applications have to be rethought. SaaS applications are served dynamically by SaaS vendors, leveraging their assets across the globe to get within proximity to the user. So, unlike an enterprise app that gets served deterministically, a SaaS app can be far more dynamic in its delivery across the globe."

Riverbed's SteelHead 9.1 technology, which is available immediately, eases the network problems caused by the increased use of SaaS applications by routing the traffic through the best route and reducing the transfers needed to run over the Internet, Parasuraman wrote.

"Riverbed has had a front row drivers' seat in this transition of the enterprise to a hybrid enterprise," he wrote, adding that Riverbed's WAN optimization technology is designed to "ease some of our customers' concerns with moving to the cloud, and in particular SaaS, which in the spectrum of cloud applications is the most turnkey and offers the least options for an enterprise to customize, control, configure or deploy."

The integrated HTTP proxy in SteelHead 9.1 preserves bandwidth by sending cached content to users rather than having them download the content whenever they need it, a capability that becomes increasingly important as more people rely on videos for such tasks as training and meetings, according to officials.

The universal license will make it easier for businesses to adopt SteelHead 9.1, Parasuraman wrote. It will be particularly important as Riverbed adds more supported applications to the lineup, as it did with Box, ServiceNow, SAP SuccessFactor and Microsoft Dynamics CRM.

"As we introduce more applications throughout the year, subscribers can get optimization for all applications with a flick of a switch," he wrote. "SaaS is simple and performance optimization should be simpler."