The Riverbed Blog (testing)

A blog in search of a tagline

“Just like…but cheaper”

Posted by riverbedtest on January 29, 2009

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Last year my family had an opportunity to vacation in Cancun.  It was going to be our first time there. Since I wanted this to be the perfect vacation, I did some research on tripadvisor.com to select an appropriate resort where my family would stay for the week.  Tripadvisor.com is a website were travelers who have previously visited the resort can submit their first-person reviews of their experience.  Since many resorts had positive reviews, I thought this was going to be an easy process. So I selected one of the top-rated resorts and called them to make a reservation.

Upon talking to the resort's reservation agent, I was told that there was no vacancy at the selected resort but that they had a nice 2 bdrm villa at a sister resort that was "just like" the original resort I had wanted.  Best of all, the price was less than 50% of the rate at the original resort, and they were going to throw in a free rental car for the week.  Wow!!!!  What a deal!  Since this was a sister resort that was "just like" the top-rated resort, I accepted the offer.

Now, I'm an experienced traveler, and in my younger backpacking days I was accustomed cheap dormitories and hostels and budget international travel.  But my wife does not travel a lot and to her, ants coming out of cracks in the walls, and strange methane smells coming out of the toilet are just not acceptable.  Needless to say, it was a bit late to address these issues when we arrived, because it was peak tourist season, and all the other resorts were booked.

Had I checked tripadvisor.com for first-person reviews on the specific resort where we were booked, I would have found out that this was an older resort built in the 1960's.  With this information, I would probably have chosen a different resort, and the outcome of the vacation would have been more favorable.  Rather, what I was reminded of is that vendor promises of being "just like" the top-rated product should be viewed warily, especially if there is an unusual discount associated with the offer.

We all know Riverbed is the leading WAN optimization solution.  As with the top-rated resorts in Cancun, is not difficult to find glowing positive references and reviews of the Steelhead solution.  However, there are many other vendors claiming that their WAN optimization products are "just like" Riverbed.  Often, a tempting discount is associated with the offer.  In the case of Cisco, the WAAS product is sometimes offered for free to large enterprises who are loyal Cisco customers.

But in the case of both Cancun and WAN optimization, the cheapest offer should be viewed with extreme caution.  That would particularly be the case for Cisco, a vendor that is known for offering premium products at a premium price.  Cisco's claims that their WAAS product is "just like" Riverbed, but at a lower price, should be seen as a contradictory statement.  If Cisco's WAAS product was truly "just like" Riverbed, then would it be cheaper?–no, it would be more expensive, just as their other core products such as switches, routers, and firewalls are more expensive than the competition.

After the Cancun experience I always scruitinize the reviews at tripadvisor.com for any hotel or resort that I bring my family to.  Nothing can substitute for the first-person account of someone who has used the product before you have.  In the same way, I would strongly advise that anyone looking to deploy a WAN optimization solution to first talk to others who have used that solution.  The vendor should be able to provide these references to you.

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