With the express goal of eliminating the need for installing and managing routers in branch offices, Riverbed is investing in a next-generation software-defined wide area networking (SD-WAN) software, codenamed Project Tiger, that will enable its RiOS operating system running on x86 servers to provide native routing services.
Expected to be ready by the latter half of 2016, Riverbed CTO Hansang Bae says that rather than requiring IT organizations to deploy and manage a complex set of IT infrastructure inside the branch office, Project Tiger will become the foundation through which storage and security services are all provided in the branch office.
Today, most branch offices are highly dependent on remote data centers for IT services that they access over a point-to-point WAN link. Project Tiger, says Bae, is designed to turn each branch office into a self-sufficient IT hub that can directly access any IT service regardless of whether it runs in a data center, in a cloud or, for that matter, another branch office. In the case of the cloud, those branch offices will be accessing instances of RiOS installed on content delivery networks (CDNs) to reduce network latency versus backhauling traffic through a data center, says Bae.
Bae notes that the vast majority of the actual work that takes place within most organizations occurs in a branch office. As such, Bae says the goal should be to eliminate as much of the network latency associated with delivering IT services to those branch offices, while simultaneously relying on SD-WAN software to reduce the complexity associated with providing those services by relying more on Network Function Virtualizations (NFV) software to deploy, for example, firewalls running on a container installed on RiOS. When all is said and done, Bae says that the combination of NFV software, open REST application programming interfaces (APIs) and containers will finally put an end to “Frankenbolton” architectures that have conspired over the years to make managing networks too complex for most IT organizations to manage.
As part of that effort, Bae says that Project RiOS will once and for all do away with the command line interface (CLI). In its place, administrators will have access to a zero-touch management framework that will not only identify configuration issues, but also make suggestions concerning how to fix them within a set of policies that have been defined by the internal IT organization. The end result is not only network services that are more agile, they are also going to be a whole lot less fragile and rigid than they are today, says Bae.
Fresh off of going private, Bae adds that the Project Tiger is an initiative that Riverbed would not have been able to make as a public company that was limited to making product development processes that were tied to quarterly financial reporting cycles. As a private company, Bae says that Riverbed is now in a better position to disrupt enterprise networking altogether.
Obviously, rivals such as Cisco and Juniper Networks that generate massive amounts of revenue from selling routers may now have cause for new concerns. But from an IT management perspective, the branch office is often a bane of existence for most IT management teams, a situation that has only become more exacerbated with the rise of cloud and mobile computing. Anything that promises to eliminate that complexity is sure to get at the very least a good hearing as IT organizations begin to plan for 2016.