For the July 2021 Special Feature on ‘Bridging The Gap Between Technology And Business, Vincent Berk, CTO and Chief Security Architect of Riverbed, sits down with Rabab Zehra of TECHx Media to discuss Riverbed’s major initiatives in the current digital transformation wave, unified visibility solution, and remote working paradigm.
TECHx: In this highly competitive digital transformation era, how is Riverbed assisting IT teams in modernizing their IT infrastructure? Please share some of your major initiatives with us.
Vincent: Over the last 12 to 18 months, we have witnessed digital initiatives being accelerated at an unprecedented pace. Projects cycles that would typically have taken upwards of a year were completed in a matter of months, and some instances weeks. As a means of rapidly supporting new business requirements, and digitalizing services, businesses embraced cloud services and pivoted toward empowering customers and employees to access key applications from anywhere, and via any device.
Migrating apps from on-premises data centers to IaaS and SaaS based environments has helped increase agility and reduce cost but this opportunity has come with many challenges. Fragmented visibility tools, a lack of before-and-after performance metrics, and over-provisioning has often led to unpredictable outcomes, higher costs, and poor end-user experience for businesses.
Against this backdrop, tools that maximize the performance and reliability of apps and remote workers, and drive enhanced network visibility regardless of location have become absolutely fundamental to high-functioning organisations in this new normal. This is an area Riverbed is deeply focused on with our customers—with solutions such as Client Accelerator, SaaS Accelerator, and unified Network Performance Management. Together, our NPM and Application Acceleration technologies offer the most complete network visibility and performance solution, enabling organisations to successfully embrace new IT paradigms and thrive in this digital-first era.
TECHx: What makes Riverbed’s “unified visibility solution” stand out now that it has been modified?
Vincent: Both work-from-anywhere, and the rapid migration to the cloud have caused an unprecedented increase in the complexity of networks. This has brought with it enormous flexibility, but also the potential for many more performance issues impacting productivity. Understanding where performance is impacted, and what can be done to mitigate the condition, has therefore become much harder. Riverbed recognizes that analysing networks and connectivity on a point-by-point basis is no longer sufficient to draw comprehensive conclusions about the system as a whole.
Specifically: operators now, more than ever, use complex combinations of telemetry to draw conclusions on what is impacting performance. As the complexity of systems goes up, the number of ways in which these systems may break grows exponentially. Using single points of telemetry makes trouble-shooting as complicated as using a flashlight to find your way through a dark maze: it gets much easier with a spotlight from up above. Similarly, Riverbed’s unified visibility solution brings telemetry from many layers in the network together to form that comprehensive picture, so the operator can quickly determine the root cause of performance and connectivity issues.
TECHx: The most popular market trend right now is probably remote working. Many businesses are now finding it challenging to provide a safe online experience. What can be done, and what part does Riverbed play?
Vincent: In the UAE and Saudi Arabia, 95% of business leaders who participated in our Riverbed Future of Work Global Survey stated that they are comfortable – but not fully prepared – with the shift to remote work, and that they expect, on average, 28% of their teams to work remotely after the pandemic.
In remote working scenarios, performance of applications can be impacted by several factors such as the reliability and bandwidth of employee’s home Internet connections, the need to utilise additional security-related technologies such as VPNs, or even latency that could be introduced by having to backhaul all SaaS traffic through a central data centre. It is imperative for organisations to address the performance of critical SaaS applications. In doing so, they will set themselves up for long-term success with the ability to radically accelerate time to market, increase competitiveness and drive revenue growth.
Riverbed’s SaaS acceleration solutions are purpose-built to facilitate fast, agile, secure delivery of SaaS applications to any user, anywhere, ensuring even the most far-flung and mobile employees stay productive and business continues. They can dramatically improve user experience and business outcomes by eliminating performance gaps and disruptions that interfere with an employee’s ability to stay connected, satisfied, and productive.
Closely interrelated with application acceleration, businesses must address the topic of performance monitoring. Nearly all (97%) of the business leaders who we surveyed in the UAE and Saudi Arabia reported that technology performance issues impact the experience of their remote workers. Interesting, the most common issues – frequent disconnects from corporate networks (43%), slow file downloads (41%), apps not working properly (40%), and long response times when loading apps (39%) – are all resolvable. To do so, businesses need the ability to comprehensively monitor activity on the network and troubleshoot anomalies.
For this reason, many of our customers are investing in network performance management solutions that offer cross-domain visibility. This means gathering and analysing all the packets across their applications, flows across the hybrid network, and telemetry for every device in play. Armed with this insight, if a team reports slow application response times or an inability to effectively use the cloud, IT teams will be able to ascertain the cause and take steps to tackle it.
In addition to providing these tools, Riverbed works closely with its customers to develop best practices, benchmarking and put measures in place to ensure work-from-anywhere engagement is as strong as it is in the traditional office set-up.