At the core of Riverbed's Steelhead WAN optimization platform sits the Riverbed Optimization System (RiOS).
The latest update to RiOS, version 8.5, provides new path selection capabilities and improved application visibility.
Jess Leroy, VP of product management at Riverbed, explained to Enterprise Networking Planet that the Path Selection feature enables an organization to optimize the use of all the different bandwidth paths available. For example, if an organization has a primary Internet connection with an LTE backup or perhaps an MPLS primary with Internet backup, RiOS 8.5 can now detect all the paths.
"We can allow you to take all your applications and not only create Quality of Service (QoS) classes, but also assign a particular path to a particular application," Leroy said. "That allows you to assign primary apps to primary paths and then assign secondary apps or recreational traffic to the secondary line."
What that means is that an organization can now utilize a backup or secondary link, which often rests unused. The Path Selection system also helps ensure bandwidth failover in the event of a primary link failure.
Leroy explained that most Riverbed Steelhead appliances already have dual-WAN ports, so Path Selection can make use of that existing physical connection. From a bandwidth detection perspective, RiOS 8.5 gets its network topology information from network pings.
"We operate on a flow-by-flow, app-by-app basis so we can migrate across paths as needed," Leroy said.
The dual-WAN port setup prior to RiOS 8.5 functioned mostly just as a connectivity option for setup.
For network packet visibility, Riverbed has recently expanded its own solution set through the acquisition of OPnet for $1 billion in 2012.
The RiOS 8.5 release improves application awareness integration with the Riverbed Cascade system.
"We're now taking all the application information and pushing it into the Cascade system so it can be displayed in our profiler," Leroy said.
Application optimizations for Microsoft applications, in particular SharePoint 2013, Exchange 2013 and Office365, are also key to the RiOS 8.5 update. New support for Microsoft's server message block 3 (SMB3) protocol helped enable the new optimization.
In addition to the new RiOS release, Riverbed is also bolstering its hardware portfolio with the new Steelhead CX 255 appliance.
Leroy explained that the new 255 appliance combines the best of the existing CX 150 and CX 250 appliances. The CX 255 can provide up to six Mbps of bandwidth, a 3x improvement on the previous CX 250 and CX 150 boxes. The system now also provides a path forward for future upgrades.
"There was no upgradability between a 150 and a 250 model. Now there is upgradability between the 255 and the three models above it," Leroy said.
Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at Enterprise Networking Planet and InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.