Riverbed today announced the release of updates to its Steelhead network performance products as well as its Granite product line, which is based on the edge virtual server infrastructure approach that Riverbed is pushing. Whereas the former aims to boost network performance for the customers that are concerned about application delivery, the latter may attract more attention from the infrastructure management industry.
Miles Kelly, Riverbed senior director of product market, explains the edge virtual server infrastructure approach to IT architecture as an effort to centralise network infrastructure and provide all branch offices and end users with virtual access. Comparing the approach to that of the virtual desktop, Kelly says this architecture does the same for IT infrastructure as a whole.
"Edge virtual server infrastructure is an architectural approach that really attacks all of this data and infrastructure creep that over time has allowed for infrastructure and data to reside in the branch, outside of the data centre where it can be centrally managed," Kelly says.
Citing statistics from Forrester Research that found the majority of multi-office enterprises stored more than 50 percent of their data in branch locations, Kelly says the objective of Granite is to eliminate a significant challenge that many organisations have made for themselves.
This trend is not only causing management issues, but is also putting businesses at risk, says Cindy Borovick, IDC program vice president for Enterprise Data Center Networks.
"I think it is more about risk to the business," Borovick says. "The data is at risk. Most branch locations do not have the security that is available at headquarters. Further, the ability to have globally coordinated, centralised business analytics is key to business intelligence and driving revenue growth."
Riverbed plans to establish a foothold in the market for edge virtual infrastructure by providing it to its current customers for WAN optimisation tools, expecting those that are familiar with its WAN optimisation tools to be open to its new storage solutions, Kelly says.
"The market for the remote branch IT infrastructure is highly fragmented in terms of the buyer. Sometimes it is a central IT organisation, sometimes it is desktop support, sometimes it is the network manager," Borovick says. "As a result, Riverbed has an opportunity in this market like any other networking vendor; further because of the fragmentation, the barrier to entry in the storage market should be lower."
Whether Riverbed will remain ahead of the curve in this market remains to be seen, primarily because most other competitors simply haven't put as much effort into this market, Borovick says.
"Many of the other participants do not currently put targeted marketing and sales towards the remote branch," Borovick says. "Cisco will continue to be Riverbed's largest competitor at the remote branch. Others will join the fray from a marketing perspective but at the moment they have a clear opportunity."