What is our primary use case?
Our primary use case was to link about a hundred sites globally for a large company. The idea was essentially for cost-saving. They've got a large MPLS network with different providers with MPLS links and the idea was that in the first phase we would remove one of the MPLS links and then create a sort of centralized overlay that they could then have additional services to the remote sites and also give them a level of visibility globally across all their sites around the world.
The orchestrator was in the cloud but other parts like the hub site and data centers were obviously on-site and analytics were on-premises.
What is most valuable?
The analytics is the most valuable feature because it was very granular and very comprehensive, although a little complicated to use. If you're really interested in knowing what's happening on your network, it's a very good solution. That was the .NET Profiler part of the solution.
What needs improvement?
The routing scalability needs improvement. We have run into a lot of limitations and also primarily from a routine perspective, things like RSPs line support. It was supportive but not really supportive.
For how long have I used the solution?
I worked with Riverbed SteelConnect for three months.
What do I think about the stability of the solution?
From an SD-WAN perspective, it's stable, I wouldn't say anything negative, but we ran into a few issues but that was more to do with the way that the customer data center was rooted. It caused additional problems and we had to do a workaround around to get things up and working as expected, which later caused more problems. It has more to do with a limitation on the actual data center architecture that was in place rather than a limitation of the solution itself.
What do I think about the scalability of the solution?
There were around 6,500 employees using this solution. We deployed four sites deployed just before Covid-19 and the rest have been delayed.
How are customer service and technical support?
The technical support was good. The guys were very knowledgeable and had a good level of technical competency.
How was the initial setup?
I would say the setup was relatively straightforward. Not as simple as a cloud solution, but it was straightforward.
The times it takes to deploy really depends on the type of site you're deploying. With the planning and the site deployment, it took a few hours with a team five or six people to check all the routines and all the services that were reestablished after we deployed the SD-WAN.
What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?
You have to pay more if you want the analytics part and for the licenses for the Flow Gateway .NET Profiler.
What other advice do I have?
It's like an SD-WAN project basically. You really need to make sure that the product matches the needs of what the customer's trying to achieve and their overall strategy to meet their core business requirements. I think a certain customer made a mistake in choosing this solution because a large part of their network was Cisco and they had firewalls that were from Fortinet. I think they would have been better off and it would have been better from a CAPEX, OPEX point of view. It would've been more advantageous for them to have maybe chosen a Cisco or Fortinet solution based on their existing environment.
Make sure you understand your network correctly before you try to implement any SD-WAN solution. That was one of the good lessons I learned about SD-WANs with this specific product. I wouldn't say it was a fault of the product. I would say it's more a fault of the CTO who tries to do things quickly without taking into account the existing environment or give the internal faculties the time to provide real low-level design implementation. It was more of a management mistake than from their technical team.
In the next release, I would like to see things like integrated security but with local internet breakout instead of using third party solutions like NetScaler or Palo Alto. I would also like to see the integration of things like a VPN so that if you have remote sites where you might have remote workers that need to access the site from home or something, there's a VPN solution. Those are two key features and hotspots in the sort of global crisis.
I would rate Riverbed a seven out of ten. I could never give any solution a 10 cause they all have good and bad points. To get any solution to a ten is pretty much impossible. If I was to rate it against others like Fortinet, I would probably give Fortinet an eight or nine. Again, I think you have to be careful because it's very subjective. I think it really depends on the type of environment, the type of customer you're deploying the SD-WAN solution for, and from which perspective you're looking at like if you an operator, if you're a large enterprise, if you're looking for a plug and play type solution. If you're looking for more of a security solution, I would go for Fortinet. It's kind of tough to say. I'd probably put the clouds a little bit ahead of the game because it does what it's supposed to do and easily. It's a little more of a plug and play type solution. Fortinet, for example, is more complex. I put it in a close second place, it's better from a security perspective. It has integration with FortiGuard. After that, I would put Riverbed in third place.
Which deployment model are you using for this solution?