Riverbed upgrades SteelHead SD routing stack, adds in-field upgrade capability

Riverbed is also making OPEX-based subscription pricing available as an option for the SteelHead SD, bringing it in line with other appliances.

Riverbed Technology has announced multiple enhancements to SteelHead SD, their hybrid WAN optimization and SD-WAN software-defined cloud networking solution designed for Edge deployments, which covers the whole distributed network fabric from the hybrid WAN up to the cloud. The upgrades are a major upgrade to the core SD routing stack, improved in-field upgrade capabilities for the Steelhead CX WAN optimization appliance to the Steelhead SD, and a subscription-based pricing option.

The improvements to the SteelHead SD core routing stack are designed to provide true enterprise-class capabilities, because even though this is an Edge appliance, the nature of some deployments may warrant it.

“This is significant because the stack is now capable of supporting a large and complex network, where there is a need for interoperability between the SD-WAN and the legacy network,” said Milind Bhise, Senior Director of Product Marketing at Riverbed Technology. “That’s critical from a customer perspective.”

A new data centre appliance, the SteelConnect SDI-2030 has been added, which supports inline data centre integration and active-active high-availability configurations.

“The logical use case for this new appliance would be in an enterprise data centre with high throughput requirements,” Bhise said.

“We have had SteelHeads in the enterprise, but the SteelHead is a WAN optimization solution,” Bhise noted. “SteelHead SD is beyond WAN Optimization, because it also does SD WAN and is a WAN Edge Platform. The improved routing capabilities add new use cases around advanced network integration, cloud connectivity, hybrid network management, acceleration of applications, utilization of video, DevOps, and where you need a way to onboard new sites into the network, as in a Mergers and Acquisitions case. For the partner, it lets them address multiple use cases from a differentiation standpoint.”

The ability to upgrade SteelHead CX appliances to SteelHead SDs has also been enhanced.

“Steelhead CX was the original product, and we have a significant install base on Steelhead, which is in the tens of thousands of customers,” Bhise stated. “As more look to SD WAN, we will see more of our install base move there. One of the things we are doing around this is offering in-field upgrades, which future-proof their original SteelHeads. If the customer wants this capability of enhanced SD-WAN, they can get it as an in-field upgrade. They may want a combination of upgrades in some devices and not in others, and that can be done as well.”

The upgrade doesn’t require a truck roll.

“It is done through a kit that is available to customers and partners, and partners can deliver services along with that,” Bhise said.

Riverbed is also bringing in OPEX-based subscription-based pricing for all SteelHead SD appliances, with the idea being that it will allow more flexibility to meet the meet the specific needs of each location.

“This has been available for other appliances like SteelConnect, so it marks sense to add the flexibility of subscription pricing,” Bhise said. “It is just an option, not a new pricing model. However, it would help the partner to build a monthly recurring revenue stream.”