Riverbed Continues Optimization Push, This Time for UC

For most of its existence, Riverbed has primarily been a networking optimization vendor. In recent years, however, Riverbed has striven to be much more, providing a full suite of network and application management optimization capabilities.

A key part of Riverbed’s APM’s technology portfolio was gained through the acquisition of OPNET for $1 billion in 2012. Last week, Riverbed announced an updated version of the OPNET AppInternals Xpert APM tool. Today, Riverbed turns its attention to Unified Communications (UC) with the release of SteelCentral UCExpert 5.0.

Heidi Gabrielson, director of product marketing for Riverbed SteelCentral, explained to Enterprise Networking Planet that the product was formerly called OPNET Unified Communications Xpert. The last release of the platform was the 4.1.2 update in February of 2013. Riverbed embarked on a rebranding effort for its product portfolio this year, gathering all of its APM products under the SteelCentral umbrella.

Part of the idea behind the Riverbed rebranding is to emphasize its core product brand, the Steelhead networking optimization platform. But Gabrielson said that there is no integration between UCExpert and Steelhead.

The key new feature in the UCExpert 5.0 release, according to Gabrielson, is the simple fact that it supports Avaya UC. She noted that previous releases only supported Cisco UC.

While Cisco and Avaya represent a good share of the market, they aren’t the only players in the space. Another key player is Polycom, which SteelCentral UCExpert 5.0 does not currently support. David Roberts, Riverbed director of product management, UC, noted that his company is always open to exploring opportunities, with Polycom or other partners, after identifying the business case.

Monitoring performance is a key feature of the UCExpert platform, though Gabrielson said that the SteelCentral UCExpert does more than just monitor VoIP performance. She noted that UCExpert provides a complete solution to manage enterprise UC deployment and ongoing operations.

The need for UC monitoring and management solutions is likely one that will grow in the coming years as the overall market for UC solutions continues to grow. Infonetics Research orecasts that the overall market for residential and business VoIP and UC services will grow to $88 billion by 2018.

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at Enterprise Networking Planet and InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

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