New Riverbed CEO Mountford On Turning The Page On A Cisco-Style Channel Strategy And The Huge Opportunity For Partners In Software And Services Revolution

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Paul Mountford is gunning to make Riverbed Technology an application and services-focused software-defined powerhouse, and he's not shy about pointing out what he sees as the weaknesses in archrival Cisco Systems.

Mountford was named CEO of Riverbed Wednesday, after four years leading the San Francisco-based company's sales organization. Mountford also spent 16 years at Cisco, including a stint as channel chief. He's credited with making Cisco's channel what it is today by restoring partner profitability and improving partner satisfaction. The experience, Mountford said, played a critical role in shaping him as an executive.

Still, the time has come for Moutford to draw a clear line between what he sees as the transformative, modern way of running a software-focused channel powerhouse and simply putting a modern veneer on a legacy business, especially when it comes to hot technologies like SD-WAN.

"Cisco's SD-WAN is very much based on routers, and we've always been an app layer business," Mountford said. "We think customers really want the app expertise, not the router expertise. In the future, routers may be something that isn't even in the network."

Mountford sees SD-WAN as a pivotal part of the company's strategy, and that business fits into the company's ongoing evolution from WAN optimization power to software platform provider focused squarely on the user experience.

What follows is an edited excerpt of Mountford's conversation with CRN.

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