WAN optimization stalwart Riverbed Technology has named Paul Mountford as its new CEO, where he will lead the company as it shifts its focus to the cloud and red-hot technologies like software-defined WAN.
Mountford will take the reins at Riverbed immediately, the San Francisco-based company said in a statement. He replaces Jerry Kennelly, who is retiring after co-founding the company 16 years ago. Kennelly will stay on through April, the company said.
Mountford has been with Riverbed as senior vice president and chief sales officer for about four years. Mountford notably spent about 16 years at Cisco, where he rebuilt and ran the San Jose, Calif., company's channel program.
Pat Grillo, president and CEO of Riverbed partner Atrion Communications, said he considers Mountfort one of the most accessible executives in the IT industry, and is equally at home discussing corporate strategy and talking casually.
"He'll do a fantastic job as CEO," Grillo said. "He was instrumental in turning Cisco into a more channel-friendly company, and I found him to be easy to talk to and an excellent listener. He understands the fact that partners have to be profitable when selling his company's products, and he builds programs that allow that."
The leadership change comes as Riverbed seeks to compete with industry giants like Cisco in the market for SD-WAN, cloud networking and other technologies delivered as a service and on a recurring revenue basis.
Riverbed jumped into the SD-WAN market last year with its acquisition of Xirrus. Cisco last year made a push into the SD-WAN market with its acquisition of Viptela. By some estimates, the SD-WAN market could surpass $8 billion in the coming years.
Mountford ran Cisco's global channel operation between 2002 and 2005 and is widely credited with making Cisco's channel what it is today by restoring partner profitability and improving partner satisfaction.
Mountford also ran Cisco's enterprise business and its emerging markets division. He left the company in 2014 and was briefly the CEO of Sentillian, a New York,startup, before joining Riverbed.
Riverbed, which does about a $1 billion in annual revenue, overhauled its channel program early this year in an effort to help partners to win new, recurring revenue business. The program, known as Riverbed Rise, moves away from an emphasis on partner tier status and toward a system that allows for greater partner flexibility and autonomy.