What is the Intersection of SDN and ADCs?

Riverbed takes a position on Software Defined Networking as a logical place for its Stingray ADC.

By Sean Michael Kerner | Posted Aug 7, 2012
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The whole concept of Software Defined Networking (SDN) is about abstracting hardware to enable new types of networking flows. While a lot of the early discussion around SDN has focused on routers and switches, SDN goes much further. It's a concept that has many uses, including the ability to help the growing Web Content Optimization (WCO) and Application Delivery Controller (ADC) businesses as well.

Web Content Optimization is a business that networking vendor Riverbed has recently jumped into with its Stingray product lineup that also include Application Delivery Controller (ADC) capabilities.

Arpuva Dave, Director of Product Marketing at Riverbed, told EnterpriseNetworkingPlanetthat his company started out with physical hardware for its Steelhead WAN optimization technology. He noted that with the Steelhead product, customers require two devices at both ends of the network connection. In many cases IT teams preferred a physical appliance to enable ease of deployment and management at branch locations.

Server Datacenter

"That's very different than a single ended solution like an ADC where it's only in the datacenter," Dave said. "So in those environments software makes a lot more sense for them."

Dave added that with the world progressing not just into cloud, but into sophisticated Software Defined Networks (SDNs), it makes much more sense to have a software based ADC that can fin into a cloud or SDN environment.

"Our strategy right now is focused on software based ADC as that is where the disruption is happening and it's what enterprises are looking for," Dave said.

Going a step further, Dave said that Riverbed is part of the Open Networking Foundation (ONF). The ONF is one of the primary groups that is leading the development of SDN technologies and in particular the OpenFlow protocol.

"We strongly believe in the mission of Software Defined Networking and OpenFlow," Dave said. "Our goal isn't to be OpenFlow only, but rather, to build the infrastructure that will work with SDN regardless of what protocol or methodology used."

Riverbed has plans to work on SDN particularly as it relates to the Stingray WCO/ADC platform. According to Dave, Stingray is built such that it can easily be containerized within an SDN already.

"We can easily work with intelligent controllers, since we have a robust API that we built for application and cloud operators," Dave said. "The dynamics of SDN really favor a product like Stingray."

SDN isn't just a proof of concept idea that only exists in Riverbed's labs either. Dave said that Riverbed does have a couple major cloud provider customers that use Riverbed as part of an SDN network deployments today.

"Clouds are one of the first places that I think you'll see SDN really take off," Dave said.

Dave also expects SDN to take off in certain enterprise segments as well, especially where the IT team is treated as a service provider within the enterprise.

"The IT teams goal in those cases is to act like a cloud and that's the other place we see a lot of interest in SDN," Dave said.

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

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