Controlling the flow of data out of an organization is common, but keeping the reins on what’s coming into the data centre has become increasingly important as well thanks to cloud-based applications.

To some degree that can be done through a firewall, but for some IT administrators it isn’t ideal.

That’s why Riverbed Technology, which had offered out-bound quality of service on it’s the software of its Steelhead WAN optimization appliances for some time, has added in-bound QoS.

It’s available on the just released version 7.0.1. of its RiOS operating system.

“There’s a greater need to control what’s coming in to the network,” said Eric Carter, the company’s senior marketing manager.

Cloud services, mobile communications and virtualization combine to make new streams coming into the Web sites of organizations, he argues. Yet organizations also need to guarantee latency-sensitive applications such as voice and video have the bandwidth they need.

QoS is often left in the hands of service providers, he said, because IT administrators can’t configure switches or firewalls. Router-based QoS doesn’t have the intelligence to give granular control, he also said.

With in-bound QoS, Steelhead appliances can both balance and queue traffic through templates in RiOS’ central management console, Carter said.

With the Summer Olympics starting this week Riverbed’s timing couldn’t be better, says Bob Laliberte, a networking industry analyst at the Enterprise Strategy Group. Organizations may be eager to ensure for the next two weeks that staff aren’t spending a lot of time online watching the games.

Beyond this one event, he added, in-bound QoS “gives you more granular control over what’s coming into your environment so you can ensure your business applications have the appropriate amount of bandwidth, and not YouTube.”

In adding in-bound QoS Riverbed directly faces Blue Coat Systems Inc.’s PacketShaper, Laliberte added, which has had the capability for some time.

It’s a “nice-to-have” feature that will mainly appeal to existing Steelhead customers, he said.