The Riverbed Blog (testing)

A blog in search of a tagline

How the Apple iPhone and the Riverbed Steelhead are similar

Posted by riverbedtest on May 10, 2010

IPhone2

Question:  What is a key competitive advantage shared by both the Apple iPhone and Riverbed Steelhead?

Answer:  They both support more applications than competitive products

Riverbed offers more application-specific optimization capabilities than any other WAN optimization product.  Application-specific optimization capabilities are important for two reasons:  1)  some applications exhibit chatty protocol behavior that results in poor performance in a high-latency environment, and 2)  some applications perform encoding, encryption, and/or compression of their data, and this process obscures any data redundancy that may exist in the application data.  Note that these are layer-7 attributes of these applications, which cannot be addressed by applying compression or any other mechanism at lower layers in the OSI protocol stack including layer-3 and layer-4.

For those applications in the former category that exhibit chatty protocol behavior, the WAN optimization solution must be able to intelligently and predictively pre-fetch data in order to remove round-trip interactions across the WAN.  For those applications that encode their data somehow, the WAN optimization solution must be able to undo any such encoding, compression, or encryption prior to applying its compression and data reduction algorithms.  Otherwise, those algorithms will be ineffective or less effective when performed on the encoded data format.  Note that some applications exhibit both types of these behaviors.

The Riverbed Steelhead solution is able to address both types of issues for a wide range of applications and protocols, including CIFS, NFS, MAPI2003, MAPI2007, encrypted MAPI, Lotus Notes, HTTP, SSL, Oracle Forms (both Sun JRE and Oracle JInitiator), MS-SQL, and Citrix ICA.  And we're always working on adding more applications–in the future you'll see still more application-specific optimization capabilities added to this list.

So why has Riverbed been able to sustain and extend its lead in application-specific capabilities over competitive vendors?  One reason is because Riverbed is able to focus more engineering resources on WAN optimization compared to any other vendor.  While Cisco is certainly a larger company, Riverbed has greater WAN optimization market share than Cisco.  Furthermore, WAAS revenues from WAN optimization represent only about 0.5% of Cisco's overall business revenues; Riverbed has more resources in terms of development and support engineers who are focused just on WAN optimization.

On the other hand at least one of the smaller WAN optimization vendors claim that "network-level" or "network-centric" WAN optimization is faster or somehow better than "application-centric" optimization–an apparent reference to Riverbed's vastly superior application-aware optimization capabilities.  That is essentially saying that their product can deliver faster performance for applications by being ignorant of the protocol-specific behavior of those applications.  This fallacious statement is meant to distract from the observation that the vendor lacks the engineering development resources needed to keep up with Riverbed's more application-aware Steelhead offering.  Another problem with this line of reasoning is that compression products dating back to the early 1990's have always been able to perform "network-level" layer-3 optimization.  In fact, application-specific optimization capabilities is one of the key distinctions between the older-era compression devices (e.g., PacketShaper) and the new-generation of WAN optimization solutions available from Riverbed.

Advertisements

14 Responses to “How the Apple iPhone and the Riverbed Steelhead are similar”

  1. Surfer Guy said

    “Furthermore, WAAS revenues from WAN optimization represent only about 0.5% of Cisco’s overall business revenues; Riverbed has more resources in terms of development and support engineers who are focused just on WAN optimization.” I fail to see what Cisco’s $10 Billion quarter last Q has to do with Riverbed?
    Precisely why Riverbed won’t be around in a few years when this technology is built into the network.

  2. Josh Tseng said

    You fail to see what Cisco’s size has to do with Riverbed?
    It means if you need to find someone at Cisco TAC who is knowledgeable on WAAS, well good luck. Your odds aren’t very good if Cisco rationally allocates support resources according to revenues (0.5% of revenues).
    As far as Cisco catching up to Riverbed, it’s been more than five years now since they first started selling WAAS. Five years is quite a long time in the tech industry. Back in 2005 I often heard Cisco claiming that their “next” WAAS software release would be the Riverbed killer; I don’t hear them making those claims very much anymore.
    Josh

  3. Surfer Guy said

    WAN optimization doesn’t need knowledge, it’s straight forward and just “works”. Having been to a Cisco training class on WAAS, I say it’s pretty straight forward. If a TAC case was ever raised, I’m comfortable with the local resources in my country (Thailand) to support me.
    Riverbed has a good product (only 1 right? as cascade is a bolt on) so I wonder how long, in the era of high bandwidth, will Riverbed cling to a nice spot before falling by the wasteside. See you in a few years? We’ll see. All the best….

  4. Josh Tseng said

    Surfer Guy,
    I respect your right to your opinion, but seems that you haven’t looked closely at Riverbed. There are many former WAAS customers who used to think that WAAS was “good enough.” Many of them are now Riverbed customers.
    Of course Cisco wants everyone to think that WAN optimization is straightforward and that it just “works”. But if that were true, then why does Cisco have to sell it for cheaper (or give it away for free in some cases) in order to get customers to buy it? Isn’t Cisco known for selling “commodity” products such as routers and switches at a higher price?
    As for the future, you can be sure that Riverbed will be thriving for many years. The fact is that Riverbed has secured its dominance over Cisco in WAN optimization, just as Checkpoint, F5, Avaya, and others have secured their dominance over Cisco in their respective products and technology areas.
    Josh

  5. Surfer Guy said

    Josh,
    WAN optimization is straightforward. Even your own website says “Steelhead appliances provide a robust, easy to use WAN optimization capability to your branch offices and data centers”
    http://www.riverbed.com/products/
    What does Cisco’s discount have anything do with the discussion on hand. Should I take a guess and say you are in marketing. Is that really all you could say. Or are you saying that your product is very complex and takes much configuration?
    Regarding your dominance claim. I heard in 2009 that Cisco had a higher market share but that Riverbed had come back and is doing better than Cisco. Congratulations.
    Regarding Checkpoint, F5 and Avaya. You’ve overstepped your boundaries and showed how little you really know outside of WAN Opt. Cisco owns the Security market, and Avaya IP Telephony solution, well, I don’t need to comment on that. Come on, Don’t slang mud where you aren’t willing to get dirty.
    Reminds me of the blog where Riverbed bashed Cisco on it’s CRS-3. What do you possibly know about “game changing” or routing. Bah.

  6. Josh Tseng said

    Surfer Guy,
    Riverbed’s WAN optimization is certainly easy to deploy. Just ask any of Riverbed’s customers. But if you are suggesting that your WAAS product is just like Riverbed, well I suggest you ask someone who has had exposure to both Riverbed and Cisco’s WAAS.
    Regarding Cisco’s WAAS discounts, you said that WAN optimization just “works” and that your WAAS product is the same as Riverbed. If that’s the case, then why does Cisco have to severely discount WAAS in order to get customers to consider it? I thought Cisco offered premium products and premium prices. If so, then why does Cisco say to customers, “you should buy WAAS because it’s cheaper”?
    Regarding Checkpoint, I’m refering to the latest Gartner MQ for “Enterprise Network Firewalls” dated March 2010. Checkpoint is in the leaders quadrant along with Juniper, while Cisco is a “challenger”. Checkpoint is another example of a smaller company that provides a superior product in their area of focus. They have thrived competing against Cisco, just as F5, Avaya, and Riverbed have, and will continue to. We can also throw Aruba in there, and I know there are others. Come on, unless you’re a Cisco employee, you can’t possibly believe that Cisco has the best offering in every product category.
    Riverbed dominates in WAN optimization, which is its area of focus. The Steelhead solution is superior to WAAS. I rarely hear anyone argue about that anymore, other than Cisco employees. And our success rate against WAAS in head-to-head competition is still 9/10, consistent over the past five+ years.
    By the way, I don’t know if you intended for your comments to be anonymous, but in case you did, I suggest that you NOT use your Cisco IP address the next time you post on your competitor’s blog pages.
    Thanks for your comments.
    Josh

  7. Surfer Guy said

    Show some proof of this statement
    “And our success rate against WAAS in head-to-head competition is still 9/10, consistent over the past five+ years.”
    Also, please provide information regarding ” If that’s the case, then why does Cisco have to severely discount WAAS in order to get customers to consider it? ” Rather than just FUD and marketing jargon.
    We were talking about Market Share and companies, then you bring up Gartner. Gartner /= Market Share.
    PS. I don’t work for Cisco, but rather a large SI that also sells CheckPoint, Force10, Symantec, etc.

  8. Josh Tseng said

    >>Show some proof <<
    You're not a Riverbed customer and I don't owe you any proof. If you want public information, just check our SEC filings and transcript from the quarterly calls: http://seekingalpha.com/article/200343-riverbed-technology-inc-q1-2010-earnings-call-transcript
    >>>We were talking about Market Share and companies, then you bring up Gartner. Gartner /= Market Share.<<>>PS. I don’t work for Cisco, but rather a large SI that also sells CheckPoint, Force10, Symantec, etc.<<<
    First you say you're local to Thailand, and now you say you work for a large SI. But your IP address resolves to "Cisco.com" in a reverse DNS lookup.
    Best regards,
    Josh

  9. Surfer Guy said

    1) If you make a statement such as “And our success rate against WAAS in head-to-head competition is still 9/10, consistent over the past five+ years.”
    — I just asked for proof or information about this statement. Is it FUD or real? Why do you get defensive about it? The financial report says nothing about beating the competition 9/10 times in head-to-head.
    2) You wrote “I was talking about dominance in products and technology areas. I don’t recall mentioning market share to you.”
    But the original article says “While Cisco is certainly a larger company, Riverbed has greater WAN optimization market share than Cisco. ”
    — So I asked to see where you got this information from as Gartner doesn’t do share analysis.
    3) You wrote “First you say you’re local to Thailand, and now you say you work for a large SI. But your IP address resolves to “Cisco.com” in a reverse DNS lookup.”
    — I am local to Thailand, and I do work for a large SI here in Bangkok. Is that not possible to have large SI’s in my country?
    I’ve been at the Cisco office for training on new switches and now am at my home place, so go ahead and check my IP.
    Looking for clarify but seems I only get FUD and Marketing.

  10. Josh Tseng said

    >>>I just asked for proof or information about this statement. Is it FUD or real?<<>>So I asked to see where you got this information from as Gartner doesn’t do share analysis<<<
    See http://www.ccietalk.com/2010/04/07/riverbed-named-wan-optimization-market-share-leader
    >>>I am local to Thailand, and I do work for a large SI here in Bangkok.<<<
    Thank you for your clarification.
    Best regards,
    Josh

  11. Fred said

    Hi Surfer Guy,
    I remember a Proof-of-Concept het in the Netherlands, between Cisco WAAS and Riverbed. It took Cisco engineers (yes, their e-mail address ended with @cisco.com…) one week; than they concluded they couldn’t get it (WAAS) to work. It took us 30 min. and the Riverbed Steelheads were accelerating… Do I need to say more?

  12. Learnwithme said

    SurferGuy,
    I did a POC of Cisco WAAS vs Riverbed steel head, Riverbed is far easy to install,has better performance than Cisco WAAS, Cisco cannot support outlook 2007/2010 encrypted traffic, Cisco is good if you have 15 sites to be optimized but beyond that good luck…or ready to empty your wallet.With riverbed it is not an IOS dependent while cisco is just horrible …..I will never think of working on Cisco WAAS

  13. Venky said

    Does riverbed has software based WAN Optimizers for ICA on Apple Paltfom.

  14. Josh Tseng said

    Yes Venky, Riverbed has Steelhead Mobile software client available for Apple Mac running OSX 10.5 and 10.6.
    Josh

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

 
%d bloggers like this: