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Riverbed's biggest recent move, however, may be the February release of Granite, a new product family that consolidates edge applications, servers and storage to the data center while making data available to remote workers with comparable speed and performance as if that data were local. According to Riverbed, Granite could cut the cost of managing distributed environments by as much as 50 percent over a three-year period.
"Riverbed's sold Steelheads for a long time, and 77 percent of our customers who have Steelheads deployed have servers sitting next to those Steelheads," Wolford said. "So why is WAN optimization not enabling more consolidation? One of our engineers said, 'I have an idea. We can overcome all of those problems if we solve the problem at a lower level in the stack.' So with Granite we're doing at the storage layer what we did at the app layer."
What analysts, partners and competitors will be watching is whether Riverbed can grow in all of those technology buckets Wolford described. But it has assured itself of at least one thing as it celebrates a decade of doing business: an ever-broadening base of top data center-focused solution providers that have opted in to Riverbed as a strategic, practice-defining partner.
"They did a great job maturing over the years," said David Hekimian, CTO of Trace 3, an Irvine, Calif.-based solution provider. "The future's looking pretty bright for them, and when you're talking about getting involved in performance platforms and understanding what user requirements are for applications, you're looking at a growth area. We hope Riverbed continues to lean on companies that have the right skill sets [in those areas]."
"They got early on that the big change in the industry is moving from isolated, customer-centric data centers and the way you traditionally provision IT to a more distributed, shared model of basically cloud-type services," said Tim Vogel, CTO of Xtium, a Valley Forge, Pa.-based cloud infrastructure service provider that is one of the few non-telecoms in Riverbed's service provider program. "We've seen such a change in the environment where, for customers, applications aren't living locally so the ability to not only accelerate them but provide other services around that connectivity, and visibility into the traffic, is a big deal."
Substantial growth for Riverbed also has meant learning to deal with channel conflict. Several solution providers told CRN this spring that Riverbed responded to complaints that it was offering more favorable pricing to telecom service provider partners. Riverbed told partners at a recent executive exchange that it would put service providers and reseller and integrator partners back on a level playing field, those solution providers said.
"They have enough partners now where they could favor the telcos and cut out the little guys that do a lot of the heavy lifting on customers and were there for Riverbed years ago," said the chief executive of a top East Coast solution provider, who asked his name not be used. "So far, they've said they're not going to let that happen. We'll see if that sticks as more of their products touch cloud and more service providers want a piece of that."
"It's the type of [conflict] that also shows how they've grown," Trace 3's Hekimian said. "They are telling all of their partners, 'You need to follow the rules' now, and that's good."
NEXT: Riverbed Rivals Pounce On Possible Partner Discord