Riverbed CEO Focused On ‘Disruption’ In Network Observability Space In 2022

‘That’s been the major shift since I took over as a CEO. We’re making a very calculated decision on how we’re going to disrupt the market,’ Riverbed CEO Dan Smoot tells CRN exclusively.


Riverbed Technology is doing the exact opposite of returning to its roots — it’s going to disrupt the market, according to the company’s CEO, Dan Smoot.

The network and application performance vendor headed into 2022 with strong financials, hundreds of new customer wins, and growth in its visibility business that is helping the company take aim at its competitors, Smoot said. The company is also on the cusp of delivering its first cloud services platform for unified observability.

“The company never really attacked the market in the way that we are attacking the market now,” he told CRN exclusively. “That’s been the major shift since I took over as a CEO. We’re making a very calculated decision on how we’re going to disrupt the market.”

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Riverbed in 2020 announced it would be trimming its business down to its core WAN optimization, SD-WAN and application acceleration focus after, by its own admission, bouncing in and out of various networking businesses and leaving customers and partners confused about the company’s vision and long-term plans. But now, it’s about having an organized effort and specific branding around its

unified observability business and its End-User Experience Management (EUEM) business, which is called Aternity.

[Related: Former Salesforce, Cisco Exec Dan Smoot Named New Riverbed CEO]

The company is “cleaning up” its branding to make its products and offerings clearer to partners and end customers, Smoot said. Riverbed has two focused product areas: WAN optimization and acceleration and network performance monitoring (NPM) products. Aternity, on the other hand, includes its EUEM and observability. Riverbed gained Aternity through an acquisition in 2016 and then spun the business into its own division in 2019, which is now being brought back under the Riverbed umbrella.

“There will be more of a distinction between our acceleration business and our observability business,” Smoot explained.

However, in the works is Riverbed’s cloud services platform, which still operates under a code name, that will bring together and abstract data from both portfolios. The platform is currently being alpha tested with a small group of enterprise customers.

Riverbed’s legacy NPM business is helping its young Aternity business grow quickly because it’s bringing contextualized data into EUEM that can help resolve issues faster, Smoot said. “That is really disruptive to the market. Our customers are telling us that they’ve been trying to solve this problem for years,” he said.

The observability space is a fast-growing market, but it’s still stuck in categories, such as application performance management and EUEM, Smoot said. “We’re the first company that is actually going to bring the categories together to resolve issues. It’s a big growth opportunity and great second act for us.”

The San Francisco-based company earns nearly 90 percent of its revenue through the channel. The new platform will be “incredibly compelling” for partners who have historically struggled with problem resolution across networking, applications, and user experience.

“This will bring it all together for [partners],” he said. “It helps them have a better value proposition to be able to sell more deliverables, services and capabilities to their customers.”

Riverbed has spent the last year building a new talented executive leadership team to help the company prepare for its next steps. Smoot himself was promoted to CEO in June after serving on the company’s C-suite for more than three years. He came to Riverbed in 2018 from Salesforce where he led global partner sales. Prior to that, he headed up global customer operations for VMware.

Reporting to Smoot is the company’s Chief Operating Officer Bob Agnes who was promoted in August, Shaun Bierweiler, Riverbed’s chief revenue officer as of June, Senior Vice President of Human Resources, Manny Blackner, as of September, and General Counsel and Corporate Secretary Rebecca Hazard and

Chief Marketing Officer Jonaki Egenolf, who are continuing in their roles on the executive leadership team.

Riverbed plans on bringing on a channel leader shorty, the company said.