Riverbed Names Former Cisco, Avaya Exec As New Global Channel Chief

Former Cisco and Avaya executive Karl Meulema has joined Riverbed Technology as the company's new senior vice president of global channels, Riverbed confirmed to CRN Monday.

Meulema replaces former Riverbed channel chief Randy Schirman, who left in September for WAN virtualization startup Talari Networks. Meulema reports to Riverbed's new Senior Vice President and Chief Sales Officer Paul Mountford.

One of Meulema's primary responsibilities will be to help partners sell across the entire Riverbed portfolio, as the company looks to broaden its reach beyond the WAN optimization market and sell more integrated network solutions.

[Related: Riverbed Responds To Mounting Shareholder Pressure With Plan To Cut Costs, Explore Options]

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"We will be making sure that, from a programmatic perspective, we very strongly support the strategic direction Riverbed is taking, where we are really focusing on becoming a much more platform-centric company and driving our total portfolio to the market instead of point products," Meulema said in an interview with CRN. "So much of our business relies on the channel, so we need to make sure partners are following that same direction and feel supported by our programs."

Prior to joining Riverbed, Meulema was vice president of global services and partners at Avaya. He is best known in the channel, however, for an 11-year stint at Cisco Systems, where he most recently served as senior vice president of global strategy and operations, before leaving for Avaya in 2012.

Earlier in his Cisco career, Meulema spent five years leading channels for the networking giant's services business.

Meulema joins Riverbed at a critical time for the San Francisco-based vendor, which earlier this month revealed plans to restructure and perform an end-to-end review of its business. Riverbed said the aim of its restructuring, expected to be complete by the end of the year, is to trim $20 million to $25 million in annual costs.

The company also said it's working alongside advisers to explore strategic and financial options.

Riverbed's restructuring is in response to mounting pressure from activist shareholder Elliott Management, who has repeatedly pushed the company to pursue a sale. Elliott itself has made multiple offers to buy Riverbed, which it claims is consistently "overpromising and underdelivering" to shareholders.

Meulema said he will spend significant time talking to partners, and answering any questions they have, as the restructuring kicks off.

"I'm sure I will get a lot of questions and feedback around this, but I think Riverbed is a very healthy company with, I believe, a very strong strategy," Meulema said. "We are definitely on the right track to continue our growth and our success."

Riverbed earlier this month lowered its third-quarter financial outlook, saying it expects revenue to fall between $276 million and $277 million, down from its previous guidance of between $285 million and $291 million. The drop is due to lower-than-expected growth in its WAN optimization and virtual application delivery controller businesses, Riverbed said.

Industry analyst Dell'Oro Group reported in June that the WAN optimization market declined 12 percent quarter-on-quarter, seeing its lowest revenue in nearly four years. The group attributed the drop to a slowdown in branch office expansion, which it said is softening demand for basic WAN optimization functionality, such as caching and compression.

Providers of hardware-based WAN optimization appliances also are facing new pressure from startups like Talari Networks and Silver Peak Systems, who offer virtualized WAN solutions.