Riverbed says that the new platform will make it easy, for the first time, for traditional networking partners to deliver services around Riverbed technology.
SANTA BARBARA CA — Earlier this year, at the Mobile World Congress, Riverbed formally announced a new initiative which had been long germinating, and which the company believes will have significant strategic value for them – their new Service Delivery Platform. This week, at Riverbed’s Partner event here, the company dropped the other shoe, announcing its upcoming availability in limited release. They also indicated that when it hits general availability, this is something many partners should find interesting, not just large service providers.
“We will be in the market with the first version of this in Q3 of this year,” Phil Harris, SVP and GM of the Service Provider Business Group at Riverbed, told partners in his keynote. “Some partners are doing early development work with us on this as well. This platform will be developed by us and you guys. It’s not just about us.”
Harris laid out the high-level overviews of the rationale and design philosophy behind the platform for Riverbed’s partners.
“We’ve been seeing for some time that the services lifecycle is evolving at a rapid pace,” he said. “Unless we start think about how to deploy application infrastructure in real time we will be stuck, to where it becomes the deciding factor in how we build things.
“Service providers need to shift their focus to the delivery of business transformation services,” Harris continued. “The traditional model has focused on implementation. Now the focus is on value service creation, delivery and optimization – on business value rather than implementation.”
A critical problem, he said, was that most hardware-centric vendors have kept to something close to the traditional hardware lifecycle, which has become increasingly archaic as software providers like Google and Facebook speed up their release cycles.
“If we take off those shackles, the rate of innovation will be so much faster – meaning working in hours and days rather than months and years,” Harris emphasized. “Why can’t we bring the cloud model of continuous release to the IT market place – taking all those born-in-the-cloud capabilities and democratizing them in the IT landscape? That’s what we are doing with the services delivery platform!”
This platform provides a cloud-like service centric approach that Riverbed believes is fundamental to the future. He indicated that it offers a far superior approach than the network function virtualization (NFV) approach which service providers have been using, but which alone is self-defeating because of the additional operational complexity it creates.
“Our Service Delivery Platform abstracts infrastructure to enable service-centricity,” Harris said. “We took a totally green fields approach to this to do it right the first time. It’s based on extensible micro-services.” Harris said that it’s a completely open system, and could even be open sourced.
It also avoids creating more isolated infrastructures, enhancing the NFV stack with a set of carrier-grade service management tools.
“It’s important to start modelling the type of infrastructure services that allow multi-tenant multi-vendor capability, and integrating this with what customers and service providers already have,” Harris said.
While the presence of the platform was announced back in February, this is the first time that Riverbed has talked about it with a broad array of their top partners.
“The platform really serves two purposes,” said Irina Farooq,” VP of Products and Strategy at Riverbed. “It serves a selfish purpose for us, as it lets other people automate managed services around our technology. But it’s also an open platform for the partners.”
Farooq expects that most partners who use this platform will start by automating Riverbed’s own managed services, and will then broaden out. She also said that it really suits the managed services model better than anything Riverbed has offered to date.
“We have not made it easy to deliver services around our technology, but our Service Delivery Platform will change this,” she said. “We provide Steelhead WAN optimization-as-a-service, but that’s a difficult product to offer as a managed service for a networking partner. This is much more into the natural managed services skillset. Our technology here is better aligned with the skillsets of most of our partners.”
The platform is also a key part of Riverbed’s strategy to embed more and more of its technology into the offerings of others.
“I believe this will be integral in this way,” Farooq said. “It naturally lends itself to be embedded in other services. More and more of our technology will be embedded.”
The Q3 release will start around a small set of development partners.
“We are using an agile process where the development partners will give regular code drops to validate,” Farooq said. “Once it is fully validated, it will move to General Availability, and then programmatic support for it will roll out.”
While partner input in the development will be limited to major established service providers, Riverbed is emphasizing that it isn’t just for them once it hits general release.
“This Service Delivery Platform offering is one that many of our partners should be interested in,” said Subbu Iyer, Riverbed’s Chief Marketing Officer. “It will let them build a multi- tenant environment and manage many customers.”
The organizational structure for the Services Platform is also new to Riverbed.
“It’s a very unique structure where product, sales, business development, strategy and engineering are all integrated in the business unit under Phil Harris,” Farooq said. “Sales and marketing are more typically in separate business units. It’s a very unique structure, because we need to be very focused.”