Profile: Riverbed Technology

How Riverbed grew to become a $1bn-per-year company

Tags: Riverbed Technology Incorporated
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Profile: Riverbed Technology Taj El-Khayat, managing director, Riverbed METNA
By  ITP.net Staff Writer Published  July 24, 2014

How did Riverbed start?

Riverbed was established in 2002, with the main purpose of being able to create the right platform for organisations that wanted to globalise further but at the same time have all the different users across the world accessing real-time applications through the internet and wide-area network, as if they were actually sitting in headquarters. They wanted to give these end users the right experience, the right access to data, and they wanted to ensure that the quality of service was equal across the network.

As globalisation was hitting more and more, and companies were branching out of places like mainland Europe and the US, they needed a technology that enables applications to run smoothly over the WAN. And that’s where the WAN optimisation controller market basically came to life. Up until about 2008, we were the leader in innovating in the WAN optimisation controller market. But based on the importance of how we enabled users to have the right end user experience, leveraging the investments that companies do on applications in various forms — ERP, SharePoint Portal, voice, video, for example — they needed to ensure that they have the right mechanism for them to enhance the quality of service.

How has Riverbed’s outlook changed since then?

From our perspective, we started seeing a lot of more issues that customers face. When they start getting access to these great services, they’re saying it’s really not that easy to keep that quality of service because there are other things impacting the network, both from the application side or even from the network side. You start finding that departments are blaming each other, so we realised that we have the visibility on exactly what’s going on. This became the notion of the company to start looking at diversifying our product portfolio away from WAN optimisation.

So how did Riverbed go about this?

Firstly, we needed to make sure that the performance of application is always at its best, giving the best end user experience. And more importantly, we needed to ensure that we’re giving customers and the IT services of our customers the ability to proactively identify the issues that happen on the network before it actually hits the user. So, availability of data, application performance, as well as the proactivity of enabling the issues, this is something we call location-independent computing.

The whole notion of it is that we want to make sure that the users are not tied to the location that they are in to have the best level of service. They can actually get the best level of service because, with our technology, we’re able to create that platform that wraps around it to always make sure that the operation is always giving them the best access that they can actually get.

And this is basically where we came up with the different technologies beyond and above the different application controllers.

What technologies are now available in this space, then?

We have things like converged branch infrastructure solutions, around our Steel Fusion technology, which is very much around physical server virtualisation. It’s around local storage consolidation where you take physical servers, virtualise them using our Steel Fusion technologies to basically be able to reduce the OPEX of customers who are maintaining servers on the branch.

Another technology that we’ve had around our platform is our application delivery controllers. We’ve actually led the way as Riverbed to drive virtual application delivery controllers in the market, aligned with the whole software-defined networking architecture, to decouple the dependency of software on hardware, and provide the right elasticity, provide the ability and the flexibility for customers to be able to adopt much faster cloud and virtualised environments.

What does the business side of things look like at Riverbed?

From a global perspective, in 2013, we as a company closed a little bit more than $1bn in revenue. We’ve passed our first billion dollars, which is quite an exciting time for Riverbed in terms of our ability to do so despite the fact that, after the acquisition of OpNet in 2012, there was a lot of scepticism from the market. We actually came through very strong, and the scepticism was mainly due to the fact that it’s a new technology coming into something that people thought was dying — the WAN optimisation controller.

If you think about that thought process of WAN optimisation controller, adding application performance monitoring to our portfolio and then coming up with the location-independent computing message, we actually proved to the market that we can continue to grow, as we have been.

What about the Middle East?

METNA has not only surpassed the growth of EMEA, but also the growth that we are seeing globally. METNA, in 2013, saw around triple-digit growth. We’ve also tripled the size of our organisation as well. We’ve been able to invest more in resources in some of the key markets that we consider as focus and growth markets. And we’ve refined a complete partnering strategy around that.

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