Whenever we think about optimization it’s usually in the context of maximizing a scarce resource. For example, in the case of wide area networks, we have limited bandwidth. That naturally gives rise to products and technologies that optimize the usage of that bandwidth.
But as enterprise computing continues to evolve in the era of the cloud, network bandwidth becomes an increasingly scarce resource. We can, of course, solve that problem by throwing more hardware in the form of faster routers and switches at the problem, but even then the continued growth of latency-sensitive applications running on virtual servers, coupled with the growing volume of video, continues to put pressure on enterprise networking resources.
So rather than thinking in terms of optimizing the WAN, we need to think in terms of IT performance. According to Paul Brady, vice president and general manager of Riverbed’s Cascade business unit, that’s a big part of the thinking that went into the acquisition this week of CACE Technologies by Riverbed Technology.
In order to optimize IT performance, Riverbed needs access to more information about the packets travelling across the network. Brady says CACE, which developed the well-regarded open source Wireshark and WinPcap traffic capture and analysis tools, gives Riverbed not only access to that technology, but also sets the stage for recasting Riverbed as an IT performance company.
What Brady is getting at is that as enterprise networking matures, it’s no longer just plumbing that needs to be managed. The performance of the entire enterprise application stack is now totally dependent on the network. To optimize the performance of the application, you have to optimize the network.
Ultimately, we will see a convergence of all the vendors that have anything to do with optimizing performance. Customers will want one holistic approach to performance management. That may take a while given that application developers and IT infrastructure people are often at odds with each other. But it will happen.