Riverbed to acquire Xirrus targets SD-Branch?

Riverbed will acquire WiFi vendor Xirrus, expanding their SD-WAN and WiFi offerings. Both private companies will conclude the deal later this year.

This acquisition will broaden Riverbed’s SD-WAN portfolio, providing bolstering of the Ocedo purchase in early 2016. Like Ocedo, Xirrus have a managed WiFi platform, so is this more about the SD-Branch rather than SD-WAN?

SD-Branch envisages the bulk of networking equipment being managed by software. The branch doesn’t necessarily contain lots of kit, but across retail estates of 800 or 2000 sites, this adds up to a lot of devices to manage. It might also be lower margin than the data center but doesn’t take as much engineering savvy to compete at this level, so innovative software can make a significant difference.

Companies with multiple platforms in their portfolio are targeting SD-Branch, especially those that cover the routing, security, optimisation, LAN switching and WiFi environments. There are very few players able to compete in this space with a broad enough product range.

With this purchase, Riverbed is showing that the real target for SteelConnect is Cisco‘s Meraki platform. Meraki with their solution can provide all of the same elements, but also enterprise device management, and security cameras.

It’s not all about the hardware, though. Metrics on usage are essential, especially in the retail and hospitality markets. Knowing where your customers spend time, and being able to target messages to them directly is the key to digital marketing. XPS (Xirrus Positioning System) is Xirrus’s solution. Meraki provides Location Analytics, something they were very keen to stress during CiscoLive earlier this year in their presentations.

As always, it’s not what the technology can do, but what you can do with the metrics the technology provides.