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Riverbed Acquires Xirrus to Strengthen SD-WAN Solution

Riverbed plans to use Xirrus technology to expand its SD-WAN solution.

SD-WAN solutions for Riverbed and Xirrus.

Source: Thinkstock

- Riverbed Technology announced its acquisition of Xirrus to expand its software-defined wide area network (SD-WAN) and cloud networking solution Riverbed SteelConnect. Riverbed hopes to offer customers unified connectivity and policy-based orchestration across the entire distributed network including WAN, LAN/WLAN, data center and the cloud.

“In today’s digital, cloud, and mobile world, enterprise networks are more complex and unpredictable than ever before and IT is struggling to manage all of this,” Riverbed Chairman and CEO Jerry Kennelly said in a statement. “A fundamental rethink to networking is required and with this acquisition, Riverbed and our partners are uniquely positioned to provide CIOs and businesses with a software-defined networking approach that delivers unified connectivity and orchestration across the entire network.”

Riverbed’s SD-WAN solution provides organizations with centralized and unified management across the network with policy-based orchestration and connectivity to Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft Azure. The solution also improves performance with integrated WAN optimization, visibility and network and application intelligence with business intent-based policies, and user experience driven control.

Riverbed hopes to improve its policy-based orchestration for SteelConnect and extend out to the edge of the network by acquiring Xirrus.

“Legacy approaches to network management have become completely untenable. IT must move beyond the days of managing individual network devices using arcane CLI commands and scripts and instead move to software-defined approaches that are based on global policies, automation and orchestration,” Riverbed SteelConnect Senior Vice President Paul O’Farrell said in a statement.  

“The SteelConnect offering has extended the power of policy-based orchestration out to the broader reaches of the distributed network,” O’Farrell continued. “By combining the advanced Wi-Fi capabilities of Xirrus and SteelConnect’s intuitive and powerful orchestration, we’re taking a bold step to bring the power of policy-based network management out to the wireless edge.”

SDN functions using abstraction, simplifying the complexity of a computer system by arranging and suppressing the more complex features below the operation level. Programmers operate the SDN through a simplified interface, which automates the complex features and allows the programmer to focus on simpler functions.  

SD-WAN centralizes the control function into a SDN controller and the controller abstracts the user’s private network services from the underlying IP network. This enables the user to operate private network services through a centralized policy. SD-WAN is flexible and can adapt more easily to changing network conditions and bandwidth demands during peak hours, which makes it appealing to healthcare organizations.

SD-WAN offer a level of network visibility and control that allows IT administrators to see out to the edge of their network.

According to Bob Zemke, Director of Healthcare Solutions at Extreme Networks, visibility and control are key to a successful wireless deployment and are the most-sought-after request healthcare organizations express when upgrading their wireless networks.

“There are so many different connected machines now inside of a hospital environment that I other markets really have to deal with,” Zemke told HITInfrastructure.com in a previous interview. “We have to think in terms of not just the connectivity of these machines and these devices but what are they doing on the network? How are they behaving? And that's a struggle for most hospitals today it's not just making sure it's connected but in terms of security and compliance and patient safety.”

While SD-WAN may give organizations better visibility and control over their network, many entities are still hesitant to adopt a new network strategy that functions so differently from legacy solutions. Legacy technology that is proven to perform tasks securely is viewed as safer because of the notion that drastic IT infrastructure changes will disrupt the network.

The continued adoption of connected and IoT devices as part of health IT infrastructure requires organizations to accommodate these types of connections with more adaptable, controlled, and advanced network technology. Legacy network monitoring and management cannot handle the rise in traffic or the higher volume of remote access.

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