WAN Optimization Inroads: Ipanema CEO Has Sights Set On U.S Market

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WAN optimization specialist Ipanema Technologies says it's taking significant steps to build out its presence in the U.S. market and is banking on the channel to fuel its success.

"In core [geographic] markets, where we have done well, we are 25 percent-plus market share," said Jim Darragh, CEO of Paris-based Ipanema, in a recent interview with CRN. "My challenge now is how do I get the U.S. to that point."

Darragh joined Ipanema in September from cloud orchestration startup Abiquo, where he was CEO. Before that, he spent a year at Ipanema competitor Riverbed Technology, where he was senior vice president and general manager of Riverbed's Stringray business unit.

[Related: Ipanema Finds First U.S. Channel Exec In Former VCE Channel Manager]

Darragh said he is looking to replicate the success Ipanema has had in France and the U.K. here in the U.S., where the company faces off against Darragh's former stomping grounds, Riverbed, along with other U.S. incumbents such as Silver Peak Systems and Cisco Systems.

And that, he said, is where the channel comes in.

"I've been very clear coming in that [our strategy] is 100 percent indirect, all with partners," Darragh said. "I'm removing any gray or fuzziness. We are not doing direct business."

Ipanema today has a small U.S. partner base of 20 or so solution providers but is looking to at least double that number this year. To fuel that effort, the company has been building out its U.S. channel management ranks, with the hire last year of John "Jack" Milik, the former senior manager of channels at VCE, as its first U.S. channel chief. In March, Ipanema also tapped Ben Heisler, a former sales executive at storage vendor Coraid, to head up Ipanema's North American sales.

Vince Arden, founder and CFO of Preferred Communications Systems, a Tinley Park, Ill.-based solution provider and Ipanema partner, said that as Ipanema creates a more formalized U.S. channel program, Milik and other members of the Ipanema sales team have been gathering feedback from partners.

“For somebody who is developing a [U.S] channel from scratch, what I’m seeing is that [Ipanema] is listening to partners,” Arden said. “As they transition to this model, they are definitely asking what is important to us.”

Darragh declined to give Ipanema's current market share or sales volume in the U.S., but did say its investments are starting to pay off.

"In [the first] quarter, we did as much [U.S. sales] as we did in the whole of last year," Darragh said. "So I guess we are talking about 300 percent to 400 percent growth in the U.S. market this year."

Ipanema stands out from other WAN optimization players, he said,  because of its focus on delivering WAN optimization as a service and helping customers better manage Software-as-a-Service and cloud-based applications.

Citing a recent report from research firm Infonetics, Darragh noted that the worldwide WAN optimization market as a whole declined 8 percent in the fourth quarter of 2013, while Ipanema saw sales shoot up between 10 percent and 20 percent. He said he views Ipanema as "one of very few vendors" in WAN optimization set for long-term growth.

"The interesting component, when I begin to put the pieces together, is that while the WAN optimization market sees a decline, we continue to grow and have very strong growth aspirations this year," he said. "Pure point-to-point WAN optimization is yesterday's news."

 Ipanema's AppsWork product, which bundles WAN optimization, bandwidth control and application visibility capabilities into a single hosted solution, is poised to be a channel sweet spot in the U.S., according to Darragh, allowing partners to rebrand and sell the service as their own without having to invest in their own hosting environments.

Ipanema also is evolving its model, Darragh said, to better accommodate customers who are moving a greater portion of their business applications to the cloud. In October, Ipanema introduced its Cloud Application Management solution, designed to help enterprises better understand and control the performance of their applications as they flow between public, private and hybrid clouds.

Arden said it was Ipanema’s focus on SaaS and cloud-based applications that really prompted Preferred Communications Systems to partner with the company. “We see [Ipanema] as something that is going to be vital for customers that have a portion of their business in the cloud or are moving that way,” he told CRN. 


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