back to article Riverbed Technologies files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection following pandemic 'headwinds'

Riverbed Technology has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection with a view to implementing a "prepackaged" financial restructuring plan to eliminate debts of $1.1bn following struggles caused by the pandemic. The SD-WAN and WAN optimisation biz first signalled intent to enter into a Restructuring Support Agreement last …

  1. pavel.petrman Silver badge

    Numbers don't add up, like with so many startups

    Call me old fashioned, stupid or both, but I don't get it. 2 billion in debt for a company with 1,400 people? After 20 years in business? In software and services? To me this smells like Covid was a passable excuse and the headwinds needed not be anything more than a fart in their general direction.

    1. tip pc Silver badge

      Re: Numbers don't add up, like with so many startups

      I Investigated riverbed a number of times a long long time ago, skipping jobs before getting into procurement stages.

      A couple of jobs back there was a cupboard full of the things, the guys said they’d been nothing but trouble and got canned as soon as the twit who got them in left/sacked.

      You can’t readily compress stuff that is already compressed, video and encrypted stuff don’t yield much if any savings after compression which comprises nigh on all wan traffic today so why pay a fortune for so,etching that has little benefit.

      As someone else mentioned, high rate comms is getting cheaper and cheaper every year, 10gb dwdm’s are crazily relatively cheap compared to the frame relay circuits of old.

      1. JerseyDaveC

        Re: Numbers don't add up, like with so many startups

        With regard to the usefulness of RiverBed, I used to run a fleet of them on my global WAN ten years ago and they were really, really good. In my view Peribit (which was later acquired by Juniper) did it first but RiverBed did it better. They were a long way from cheap, but they maximised the value of my £1m-a-year network.

        But I agree that these days it's hard to see the value of such kit. The key word you used was "encrypted": you just don't see the repeated byte streams in encrypted traffic that you do in unencrypted flows, and so they're impossible to compress. Back in the day my main savings were in Windows fileshare (CIFS/SMB) traffic, which compressed by 80% or more in the average case. With today's penchant for encrypting anything that moves (whilst also encrypting when it's not moving!) that use case has gone down the Suwanee.

        And with SDWAN (poncey term for VPN) and cloud-based operation growing like mad one assumes there are fewer and fewer companies using private (or pseudo-private) circuit WAN anyway.

    2. Abominator

      Re: Numbers don't add up, like with so many startups

      Its a shame as the original core product is very good, but there is a lot of bumf around the edges.

      I think Terradata came before them, which was a spin out from the human genome project where they used normal compression, protocol optimisation and deduplication based on Rabin finger prints to dramatically optimise bandwidth and TCP over long WAN links which are subject to throughput limitations with the ACK delays from the RTT.

  2. Twanky Silver badge

    I may be out of date here but isn't one of their main product offerings intended to improve site-to-site or site-to-datacentre performance? When suddenly all their customers' users are WFH rather than in their offices doesn't that kind of make site-to-site acceleration less relevant?

    1. JerseyDaveC

      Yep, I think you're right. And if you do want high-speed connectivity from your office into the cloud there are services such as MS ExpressRoute that don't cost the earth so long as you shop around.

  3. Darkk

    Riverbed is great back in the day when most companies can only get 1.5MB T1 connections for site to site VPNs. This is where Riverbed shines. Now we're into gigabit speeds on the cheap it doesn't make too much sense anymore to use their products.

    1. TaabuTheCat

      "Riverbed is great back in the day when most companies can only get 1.5MB T1 connections for site to site VPNs."

      This. Lovely products back in the day - used lots of them when they were first released and they felt like magic over T1s, but those days are gone. Convenience blame the pandemic all you want, but the ongoing need for their products is the real story. It's all downhill from here.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A blast from the past

    Have to be careful what I write here for fear of who may be reading....

    Once upon a time, I was involved in independent consultancy for a customer who employed a young whipper-snapper of an IT manager who was quite obviously promoted well above his skillset.

    Nonetheless, one day, the IT manger declared he wished to move all (and I mean *ALL*) servers from their office in X to their office in Y. Where distance(X,Y) = a very long long way. As an additional factor, bear in mind this was about a decade or so ago, so high-bandwidth fibre (either private circuit or internet) was not an option.

    But I digress. Said IT manager had seen a presentation at some trade show from our friends at Riverbed and got a greasy-sales rep in for a sales presentation.

    To say I was, shall we say, "concerned" about the claims being made would be an understatement, but we shall leave it there lest any legal-eagles read this.

    Anyway, IT manager pushed ahead with an order. At great cost of course, because such was the way with Riverbed.

    So one weekend, the Riverbed guys came in and set it all up, tested and went away. At the same time, all local servers were decommissioned.

    Come Monday morning, 80+ people arrived in the office. As expected, they could barely login (Windows network, so AD logins, NTFS network folders and all that jazz). Even once logged in it was slow as treacle.

    Our phones were off the hook with people begging us to come and "fix it". However the IT manager sitting in his office in Y was unrepentant and insisted it was all some sort of teething problems and Riverbed was the one and only way forward.

    Our team relayed this up to the big cheeses. And word came from up high that we were to immediately cease taking calls from that client, and the big cheeses tore up the contract and left the client and their IT manager to their own self-inflicted demise.

    1. Wellyboot Silver badge

      Re: A blast from the past

      Riverbed - fantastic compression when set up correctly.

      Site to Site latency however, where round trips take hundreds of times longer than intra-building.

      To quote Mr. Scott - "Ye canna change the laws of physics"

      1. YetAnotherJoeBlow Bronze badge

        Re: A blast from the past

        To quote Mr. Scott - "Ye canna change the laws of physics"

        As he punches it to warp 8...

  5. Andrew Barr

    Riverbed Manual

    If I remember correctly they had a "Manual" that was about 2-3inches thick, but it was completely blank. I think I used it as a notebook.

    We also had a WAN accelerator installed, which compressed files between two Canada and UK. The problem was that the files (exported SQL database transactions if I remember correctly) that we were sending were encrypted and therefore uncompressible, the problem was this was 80-90% of the traffic we were sending, so completely useless.

    1. Tim99 Silver badge

      Re: Riverbed Manual

      Silly question - Why weren't the logs compressed first, and then encrypted?

  6. Andrew Barr

    Wireshark

    I wonder if ownership of wireshark will change?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Wireshark

      It will, and won't... It's complicated.

    2. tip pc Silver badge
      Unhappy

      Re: Wireshark

      If wireshark goes under That will truly suck big ones.

    3. BOFH in Training Bronze badge

      Re: Wireshark

      Doubt it, since it's GPL code, from my understanding.

      Riverbed was the sponsor I think, so it is possible wireshark may need other funding now. Depends if Riverbed is still planning / able to sponsor wireshark.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    COVID?

    Blimey, what a load of meaningless financial word gobbledegook. Blaming COVID makes no sense.

    Riverbed was great, got caught asleep at the wheel with SD-WAN where others saw the change, and now tries to sell a whole bunch of mega complex nice-to-have monitoring stuff whilst living off the support renewals of its dieing kit, which can't last forever. Where was the innovation? Where were the sexy new products? Why split off Aternity? So many whys?

    Its customers and partners are long departed looking back at the sad carcass of a once truly magnificent elephant being slowly consumed by time, long after the lions and hyenas devoured its vital organs.

  8. gitignore

    Load balancers

    IIRC they had a really nice load balancer product which they bought from Zeus, then palmed it off to Brocade who thoroughly shat on it. Shame really, traffic managers that aren't just skins on the Cloud equivalents would have a place in the market these days, albeit niche. WAN optimisers are beyond pointless these days - I commissioned a 40Gb link a couple of years ago for about £500 in equipment and £400/month in rental - didn't need it to be that fast, it was a few quid cheaper than a 10Gb link so I thought why not?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Load balancers

      It's not just a load balancer, but the ex-Zeus product is still available if you are in that niche, Brocade sold it to Pulse Secure who were bought by Ivanti.

      https://www.ivanti.co.uk/products/virtual-application-delivery-controller

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