A third enhancement, new SteelConnect support for LTE uplinks, is more of a niche feature in North America except in remote regions, although it is still sometimes used as a backup system.
Today Riverbed Technology is strengthening their SteelConnect SD-WAN and cloud networking solution. They are announcing support for the direct connectivity offerings of the AWS and Azure clouds – AWS Direct Connect and Azure ExpressRoute. Riverbed is also announcing that they have completed their integration between SteelConnect and Xirrus WiFi, which they acquired last spring. Finally, Riverbed will now provide new deployment flexibility, by adding the availability of LTE wireless options for SteelConnect SD-WAN gateways.
Riverbed entered the SD-WAN space with SteelConnect a year ago, after early unveiling an early access offering in April 2016. It provides unified connectivity and policy-based orchestration over the entire network – the LAN and WLAN, WAN, data centre and the cloud.
“We have been aggressively adding features since the original early access launch,” said Milind Bhise, Senior Director of Product Marketing at Riverbed Technology. “The major ones here are the enhanced cloud connectivity options, and the Xirrus integration.”
The new support for the dedicated private link connectivity options – AWS Direct Connect and Azure ExpressRoute – are all about customer choice, and are most likely to appeal to larger customers.
“We introduced the capability for connectivity into AWS and Azure in our 1.0, but there are multiple ways that an enterprise can connect,” Bhise said. “Direct connections are an alternate method, which provide single-click automated cloud connectivity through a dedicate private link. Most customers for this type of connection today tend to be larger enterprises, and these larger customers are the principal target market for this.”
Google also added a direct connection for its public cloud late last year, but Bhise indicated that Riverbed isn’t rushing off to make its support a priority.
“The top two players are AWS and Azure, and those are the ones we are going after,” he said. “We will look eventually at extending direct connection support to other clouds.”
The integration of Xirrus, which makes massively scalable wi-fi networks managed with a cloud-based approach, means that its management is now unified with the SD-WAN through a centralized cloud console that facilitates zero-touch provisioning of Riverbed Xirrus Wi-Fi Access Points, creation of Wi-Fi networks, and Wi-Fi monitoring.
“This provides us with a single pane of glass that will manage the SD-WAN, and also provision and configure the WiFi,” Bhise said. “Of course, we will add more and more functionality from Xirrus as we move forward.”
Bhise said that this comprehensive integration of SD-WAN and Wi-Fi will be particularly valuable in specific use cases and verticals.
“It will allow policies to be applied broadly to the edge, from the edge to the WAN, and to the cloud as well,” he said. “In the retail vertical specifically, it will be extremely attractive.”
The final set of enhancements to SteelConnect involve new support of LTE uplinks for a variety of use cases including back-up network connectivity in retail stores, pop-up stores, rural sites, and mobile retail.
“This will be most important in stores where it is expensive to have wired infrastructure,” Bhise said. “The ability to make LTE a managed uplink will not apply to mainstream use cases, but it will be very valuable in remote areas or regions with weak networks. It is also often used as a backup link to a service provider infrastructure.”