Fast Times At Riverbed: Ten Years In, Can It Maintain Momentum?


Riverbed Technology's outright dominance of the WAN optimization space has been an admirable channel success story -- one in which it has outboxed everyone from Cisco to Blue Coat to attain roughly 50 percent market share and made WAN optimization a profitable practice area for partners, which touch 95 percent of its $726 million in annual revenue.

There's no question that Riverbed's timing has been spot on. The increasing demands placed on the network by virtualization and cloud computing have pushed Riverbed out of niche technology status and into a market that, according to research firm Gartner, will grow tenfold over the next five years.

As Riverbed celebrates 10 years as a company this month, its solution providers are hoping it can pull off another neat trick: transition ably through its most ambitious portfolio upgrade without sacrificing any of its channel goodwill or getting too far ahead of itself. And with so many updates coming so fast -- from the application delivery products it developed from recent acquisitions to the potentially game-changing edge virtual server infrastructure product Granite -- it's clear Riverbed will be tested during its transition from WAN optimization vendor to, as its top executives now describe it, a "performance company."

[Related: Riverbed Granite: Centralized Data Served Fast To The Edge]

" 'Performance' is the magic word," Eric Wolford, Riverbed executive vice president of marketing and business development, said in a recent interview with CRN. "Everything Riverbed is doing is centered on delivering performance to our customers for a wide variety of workloads. The more the world is globalized, the more performance is needed. The more data centers are virtualized and consolidated, the more performance is needed."

The past year's bumper crop of Riverbed updates include everything from the virtualized version of packet analysis tool Cascade Shark -- a product line that was integrated with its Steelhead appliances in the fall -- to the lower-end Steelhead models it introduced earlier in May.

On top of those, it has bolstered partnerships with the likes of Akamai (a jointly developed SaaS acceleration offering) and VMware (using Riverbed WAN optimization with VMware vCloud Connector to accelerate how virtual machines move between clouds). Riverbed also made a string of acquisitions, first of Zeus and Aptimize last summer for ADC and Web content optimization products and, more recently, of assets from fellow WAN optimization player Expand Networks.

All of those moves have left Riverbed with a multipronged approach to tackling enterprise performance needs, Wolford said. Its product buckets include Steelhead, which is its WAN optimization appliances; Cascade, which covers network monitoring; Stingray, which is Web content optimization and application delivery wares developed from the Zeus and Aptimize products; and Whitewater, which is cloud storage.

NEXT: Is Granite Riverbed's Biggest Play So Far?