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CRN Exclusive: Riverbed Redesigns Channel Strategy, Launches Services Attack At Partner Summit

Riverbed Channel Chief Karl Meulema reveals three new paths for partner profitability around driving more holistic and as-a-service revenue opportunities for channel partners betting the most on the vendor.

Riverbed Technology is investing more in the channel and looking to stir some excitement by unveiling three new opportunities for partners to sell more end-to-end Riverbed solutions.

"Riverbed had a very large partner base, and in terms of loyalty and relevance, that just didn't add up," explained Karl Meulema, Riverbed's channel chief and senior vice president of global channels. "If you spread yourself too thin over too many partners – doing one or two transactions a year with a partner – why would they care about you?

"We've started to concentrate and focusing our energy on fewer partners and right now we're at the point where we do about 80 percent of our business with about 100 partners worldwide."

To boost revenues for these selected partners, compared to thousands of channel partners worldwide, Riverbed unveiled today at the Riverbed Partner Summit 2017 some new paths to profitability around end-to-end solutions. Many of the solutions revealed today stem from technology Riverbed acquired over the past 14 months from vendors Ocedo, Aternity and Xirrus.

[Related: Partners: Riverbed Hits SD-WAN Home Run With Plan To Acquire Xirrus]

The three paths to profitability revolve around cloud networking, end-to-end visibility and a new service delivery platform that will become available for partners to sell in a few months, according to Meulema.

The network-as-a-service delivery platform is not only targeting service providers, but enterprises and the SMB market as well. "The platform very simply automates all the aspects of measuring, metering, billing, provisioning – you name it – for a multi-tenant environment. So it allows you to have the majority of your service management fully automated," said Meulema.

Piers Carey, CEO of Teneo, a U.K.-based Riverbed partner with U.S. headquarters in Richmond, Va., said Riverbed's services push would drive new sales opportunities and enable Teneo to form a larger Riverbed practice.

"They're now accelerating the opportunities for the partner around embedding Riverbed technology, tied to their services offering. And that transition – from being a product-oriented vendor, which of course they still do, to an organization that looks specifically at how their technology can embed services into customers – is accelerating our business," said Carey.

Riverbed is also providing end-to-end network visibility through its Aternity acquisition. Westborough, Mass.-based Aternity owned a technology that enhanced Riverbed's SteelCentral performance monitoring solutions. Now partners can sell an end-to-end visibility platform spanning network, application, and end-user experience performance management, according to Meulema.

"The Aternity product itself is now integrated with SteelCentral so partners can integrate all the Aternity results in the portal and have one pane of glass where everything comes together," said Meulema.

"We're seeing a lot of customers saying, 'I'm in this period of upheaval of change and this move to the cloud, and I need to understand what's actually happening and what experience my end users are getting,'" said Carney. "The Aternity acquisition really helps to round that out now."


The third new partner offering is around cloud networking and SD-WAN. On April 19, Riverbed announced its plan to acquire wireless specialist Xirrus in a move to boost SD-WAN and cloud capabilities inside its own Riverbed SteelConnect offering.

Meulema said Riverbed is combining SteelConnect with its software-defined edge solution SteelFusion to create an enhanced cloud networking platform where customers can rapidly turn on new cloud features. He said partners could build a services practice around the platform.

"The way we've developed our platforms and strengthened our platforms with our acquisitions, it's all around creating a stronger cloud networking environment, visibility and service delivery environment," said Meulema. "Our energy is aimed at enabling our partners to deliver services around Riverbed."

Riverbed Partner Summit 2017 runs from April 25 to April 27 in Santa Barbara, Calif.

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