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With Fresh Funding From Cisco, Avi Networks Looks Toward 'The Next Level'

The new round brings the total investment in Avi to $115 million and takes the company and its relationship with Cisco to new heights, says CEO Amit Pandey.

Avi Networks CEO Amit Pandey says a new $60 million round of funding has the startup primed to dominate the fast-developing application services market.

The Series D funding also marks a turning point in the Santa Clara, Calif., company's already close relationship with networking giant Cisco Systems. For this round, Cisco has joined DAG Ventures, Greylock Partners, Lightspeed Venture Partners and Menlo Ventures as an investor.

The new round brings the total investment in Avi to $115 million and takes the company and its relationship with Cisco to new heights, Pandey said. The size of Cisco's investment isn't being made public, the company said.

[Related: Cisco's Changing Of The Guard: 8 Executive Moves That Illustrate CEO Robbins' Software-Centric Push]

"With the investment, we essentially go to the next level," Pandey said. "We have a go-to-market program with them where Cisco resells our platform around the world. We're on their global price book. We're one of very few third-party software vendors on their price book."

Avi's load balancing, web application, firewall and network analytics software integrates closely with Cisco's ACI software-defined networking suite and its Tetration security analytics platform, Pandey said. Together, they create end-to-end network automation all the way to the application, he said. "It really makes the ACI fabric more powerful from the customer's perspective," he said.

Customers see as much as a 40 percent to 50 percent cost reduction in data center Layers 4-7 when using Avi, Pandey said.

The company has been growing quickly, tripling last year compared with the prior year, and today about one-third of its revenue comes through public cloud deployments. Automation and SDN deployments account for another one-third, and the final one-third is made up of brownfield replacement of legacy appliances, Pandey said.

While Cisco channel partners have an inside track with Avi thanks to its close relationship with the networking leader, the company will work with any networking layer or server vendor, Pandey said, and the opportunity has partners excited.

"Cisco resellers are already plugged in, and we've added others who've expressed interest," Pandey said. "We enable them to give customers a more innovative solution, and it gives them a great play in the cloud. Adobe works with us in the Azure cloud. Online retailers, banks work with us in Azure cloud. We provide the solution in Azure. That gives resellers an opportunity to get in on the cloud discussion. Now you can migrate to Azure, and get the same solution on-prem. It's the best of both worlds. It really helps position the reseller as a forward-thinking, cloud-savvy partner."

Jeff Klenner, president of Evotek, a San Diego-based solution provider that works with Avi, said Avi is disrupting the load balancing market, and helping drive huge growth for Evotek as it guides its customers on the journey to the cloud.

"The load balancing space is a pretty traditional market; there hasn't been a lot of innovation in that space for a long time," Klenner said. "With the cloud coming along and customers trying to figure out how to move workloads back and forth, the idea of having a flexible, cloud-based way to do load balancing is a progressive way of doing it.

"The hard part the enterprise customer has is, 'How do I support the move to the cloud?' They're struggling with how [they] actually do the movement. Cloud-native apps? Lift and shift? What about security? How is it managed? The hybrid space between traditional IT and public cloud is my space, and Avi fits exactly in that space. You have a web-scale-type architecture to allow for frictionless apps. That gives the power back to the customer," he said.

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