The Race to Build Smarter Networks

    There are some major changes taking place at the edge of the network these days that could have a profound effect on the way the flow of data is managed across the data center.

    Riverbed Technology earlier this week acquired Zeus Technology, a provider of application delivery controllers, also known as load balancers, which puts Riverbed on a collision course with companies such as F5 Networks and Citrix.

    As a provider of a wide-area network (WAN) optimization appliance, Paul O’Farrell, Riverbed vice president of corporate development and strategy, says that Riverbed has always seen ADCs as the next logical adjacent market to WAN optimization.

    But where things get really interesting is once WAN optimization appliances and ADCs are logically integrated, the ability to optimize the flow of data coming off the WAN into the data center should be greatly enhanced. This means that network bandwidth for any class of data or applications should be optimized on an end-to-end basis across the entire network. In fact, the other move Riverbed made this week was to acquire Aptimize Limited, a company that provides technology that optimizes the flow of HTTP traffic on the network.

    Obviously, companies that have a big presence in the router and switching space, such as Cisco and Juniper Networks, are watching these developments closely as well, which should set the stage for a showdown between various providers of networking equipment that all appear to converge on the same path.

    The good news for IT organizations is that the network is about to get a whole lot smarter. The bad news is that it may take a while to see which company is actually going to be left standing to best deliver that intelligence.

    Mike Vizard
    Mike Vizard
    Michael Vizard is a seasoned IT journalist, with nearly 30 years of experience writing and editing about enterprise IT issues. He is a contributor to publications including Programmableweb, IT Business Edge, CIOinsight and UBM Tech. He formerly was editorial director for Ziff-Davis Enterprise, where he launched the company’s custom content division, and has also served as editor in chief for CRN and InfoWorld. He also has held editorial positions at PC Week, Computerworld and Digital Review.

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