SteelCentral – What’s the latest?

By Zoltan Szentgyorgyi

APM Practice Manager

SteelCentral is already a very comprehensive suite of products from Riverbed focused on performance management, however there have been a few exciting developments recently which should improve opportunities for exploiting the SteelCentral technologies to do performance management even more effectively.

Here’s a rundown of what’s new:

  • AppResponse 11 is the new combined SteelCentral packet collection and analysis appliance.
  • NetIM is the new consolidated infrastructure monitoring product.
  • SteelCentral SaaS is a new SaaS delivered APM/NPM service, and,
  • Aternity is Riverbed’s recently acquired end user experience monitoring product.

There are also new Packet Analyzer Plus and Transaction Analyzer Plus products that work with AppResponse 11 which are similar to their non-Plus editions, powerful desktop clients focused on graphical packet analysis and transaction trace analysis/performance prediction respectively.

These developments will be described in a bit more detail below, although please reach out to us at Teneo if you need any help, whether you already have SteelCentral components and would like to find out the best approach to exploit them further with these developments or if you don’t use SteelCentral already but would like to know more.

AppResponse 11 – The SteelCentral Packet Collection and Analysis Appliance

The prior NetShark and AppResponse products’ functionalities are being integrated into one product called AppResponse 11. This means that with this consolidation there’s now one passive network packet collection and analysis product in the SteelCentral suite, which should simplify things considerably.

The core Netshark functionality focused on troubleshooting will come with the base AppResponse 11 licence and is called Shark Packet Analysis (SPA). There are 2 initial optional add-on monitoring focused modules called Application Stream Analysis (ASA) and Web Transaction Analysis (WTA) that also existed prior in the earlier versions of the AppResponse product. ASA allows for initial triage of issues to ascertain if a problem is network or server related, whereas WTA allows for real user monitoring of web-based applications from a network perspective.

Some improvements over the prior versions of NetShark and AppResponse include:

  • Richer performance metrics
    • Broader set of pivot/drill down options
    • Expert analysis
  • Supports diverse users
    • Novice to experts
    • NetOps, AppOps, Security, management, LoB, “tiger” teams
  • More detailed, flexible alerting engine with advanced filters

There are a number of routes to obtain AppResponse 11 as described in the following paragraphs.

Virtual AppResponse 11

The virtual edition of AppResponse 11 is probably the best way to try it out initially. A free trial is already available to download – see https://www.riverbed.com/forms/trial-downloads/fix_apm-issues_fast.html. It’s simple to deploy, coming packaged as an OVA image to be used on VMware ESXi servers.

NetShark appliance upgrade

The NetShark xx70 appliances can be re-provisioned to AppResponse 11 now, however this is a new install on the appliance replacing the existing NetShark software and data.

New AppResponse 11 appliance

The handful of NetShark xx70 appliances can now be acquired with AppResponse 11 licences instead of NetShark.

Legacy appliance trade ups

There are some programs from Riverbed which make it attractive to trade up legacy appliances to AppResponse 11. There are a multitude of trade up opportunities, including for some Shark, AppResponse and Cascade Sensor appliances, so please contact us to investigate options that might be available to you.

AppResponse 9.x and earlier upgrades

At this time, it’s not possible to upgrade pre-version 11 physical AppResponse appliances to version 11. Please contact us at Teneo for possible trade ups/upgrade options for such appliances.

NetIM – Consolidated SteelCentral Infrastructure Management

Riverbed’s new holistic infrastructure management product NetIM combines the functionalities of the NetSensor and NetCollector products. With this consolidation, there is a single user interface and some significant new functionality, such as:

  • Metrics baselining,
  • Real-time network topology views,
  • Search based troubleshooting workflows, and,
  • Event/alarm management.

Having such a comprehensive and powerful infrastructure management product in the SteelCentral suite allows for much more efficient performance problem resolution processes, especially if used together with some of the other APM, NPM and EUM SteelCentral components.

SteelCentral SaaS – SteelCentral APM and NPM service delivered in the Cloud

In September, Riverbed announced that they would be introducing a SteelCentral SaaS service. This integrates end-user experience and application monitoring with network performance monitoring. As it is a SaaS delivered solution it is ideal for cloud or hybrid application deployments. It provides the following benefits:

  • Comprehensive Monitoring
    • Monitor end-user experience, applications, networks and servers, on and off the cloud.
  • End-to-end Troubleshooting
    • Identify and diagnose root causes of issues down to app code, SQL, network, system resource or web service.

Below is a screenshot of SteelCentral SaaS user interface, it may be familiar to some, as it is very similar to SteelCentral’s core APM product AppInternals’, but with additional ‘Network’ and ‘Processes’ tabs:

SteelCentral What's the latest?

It’s possible to sign up for early access to this solution through the following link – http://www.riverbed.com/steelcentral/steelcentral-saas-early-access-signup.html.

Aternity – Comprehensive SteelCentral RUM from the Client Device Perspective

Aternity was acquired by Riverbed a few months ago and provides comprehensive real user monitoring (RUM) from the client device perspective by having agents deployed on each client device.

By having the agent on the client device, it’s possible to understand and troubleshoot issues specific to a client device or groups of devices with a common characteristic, as details are collected around device health, as well as the performance of the applications being used. The performance of the applications on the device goes beyond just web applications to almost any application, be that a local desktop application or a fat client connecting to centralised services perhaps. This is important where ever more complex client-side interactions are becoming commonplace.

Aternity is extremely useful in obtaining a holistic understanding of the productivity of organisations’ internal users and any potential impact that application performance problems might be having.

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