Riverbed CEO: Keep an Eye on the Future

From the Road

If you think WAN optimization is a niche market, don’t say so around Jerry Kennelly. The co-founder, chairman and CEO of Riverbed Technology believes that WAN optimization is the foundation for the next generation of IT infrastructure. Network World Senior Editor Tim Greene and I talked with Kennelly about how he’s positioning Riverbed for a dominant role in corporate data centers and the cloud.

Adapt Your Message

Riverbed helps companies deliver data faster to the edges of networks. Demand for WAN optimization has accelerated as customers consolidated their data centers and eliminated local IT infrastructure but still needed to maintain application performance. “We woke up one morning to discover—wait a minute—what we’re doing is creating private clouds,” Kennelly said. Not every customer who consolidates a data center is building a private cloud, but Riverbed is able to talk about its products in relation to cloud computing trends. “Data center consolidation will continue, whether it’s the old-fashioned way or the new way.”

Think Broadly About Your Market

Data center consolidation, cloud computing and virtualization present opportunities for Riverbed to sell its products broadly, Kennelly said: at the network edge, in the data center and for backup and recovery. “The ability to connect at the application layer across networks is going to be a permanent requirement of everyone,” he said. “We’ve benefited by the fact that latency never goes away.”

Manage the Risks

Riverbed launched in 2001. Every startup faces the same risks: whether it can get funding, build the product, and find a market. “Then there’s execution risk,” Kennelly said. “We’re past the first three and really down to the last one,” which includes dealing with the competition, managing operations well and keeping a fresh product line. “We have a tremendous backlog of innovative products in our pipeline that will be coming out that focus on exactly where the future of computing is going, and that’s global IT—that Layer 7, application performance for the workers of the world.”

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