Riverbed CEO talks WAN optimisation and cloud
Jerry Kennelly discusses the future of his company, and your network
By John Gallant | InfoWorld | Published: 16:30, 17 August 2010
IDGE: You talked data consolidation as being a proxy for private cloud, which we'd push back a little on. Having a consolidated data centre doesn't necessarily mean that data centre has the characteristics of a dynamic IT infrastructure.
JK: Either way, we get their business, whether they do it in the cloud format or in a very traditional corporate data centre format. But yeah, I take your point. I'm not trying to push the cloud, by the way.
IDGE: Let's talk about that private cloud, though. What's the next phase of growth for cloud and how does that affect your market?
JK: What people want is less and less at the edge because it's expensive to deploy it or you have multiple instances, it's less secure, you have to patch it, you have to back it up, you have to have system admin personnel and resources. It's difficult to keep trained people over long periods of time. Everything that can be pulled back from a branch office and kept at that central data centre is what people want to do. People will have a single access point to the network from their data centre, then backhaul internally off their branch offices to reduce the security concerns. You'll see more online data available to be backed up across networks instead of through tape backups. So the ability to do disaster recovery, backup and archiving, never touching a tape, from big data center to backup data centre across the WAN link will become more important, and that'll be an important market opportunity for us. Then, the density of these big data centres gives us an opportunity to put our biggest machines to work. Data centre consolidation will continue, whether it's the old fashioned way or the new way. It's just what everybody wants to do. It's where the big ROI is.
IDGE: Riverbed's talked a very little about something called Cloud Steelhead. What is that?
JK: Cloud Steelhead is something we're going launch in [Q4], so I don't want to preempt our launch. But think of it as a special version of the Virtual Steelhead to be mounted in public clouds like Amazon, or AT&T's offering or any public cloud provider. It has special features that give us the ability to capture the network traffic for the customer in the public cloud so he can do his acceleration, and also some features that service providers like as support for multiple customers. The special version of the Virtual Steelhead is intended to be for customers that use it when they're going to the public cloud provider.
IDGE: Riverbed has a partnership with Verizon Business for a managed WAN optimisation service. What kinds of customer are using it?
JK: It's a relatively new offering, but we just got a great Fortune 100 customer out of it very recently. We've actually been doing business with Verizon, one-off deals - for almost four years now, and this business is driven by customer demand. End-user customers go to their service providers, they say I want a service, and by the way I want WAN optimisation, and I want it to be Riverbed's WAN optimisation. That's been true the whole time we've been in business. We've had relationships with all the service providers almost from the beginning. Verizon saw enough of this business and enough of this demand that they said we've done enough one-off contracts and went to a master contract. A Verizon salesperson can just go to his price list from corporate, and there's an item there that says Riverbed WAN optimisation managed service. That should make the flow of business easier for everyone on both sides. What the big service providers are telling us is that in virtually every RFP now, there's a requirement for WAN optimisation as part of the managed service delivered by the service providers. Verizon's a huge player globally in that market, and we expect to do a very good business with them.
IDGE: What will desktop virtualization mean for WAN optimisation?
JK: There's a lot of interest in desktop virtualisation. We've been an early partner of VMWare and we just released version 6.1 of the Riverbed product, which works very well with the Citrix products for desktop virtualisation. IT guys would like the guys out at the edge with their laptops and desktops to be able to move that up across the WAN, to do continuous data protection of their files and essential storage, and be able to manage the image of all the desktops in a way that's cheap and efficient. Desktop virtualisation has the same problem as data center centralisation, which is distance. It's an impediment to the performance of the desktop, either to boot it up or to get the image across the network or to do the continuous data protection. We help anyone who's doing desktop virtualisation to make a cheaper, more powerful experience for the individual virtual desktops, number one. Number two, we have future products in development that will give you the ability to boot up your servers across the WAN and have an even more powerful desktop experience. I think it's come on a little slower than people thought. But it is coming, and products like ours, along with our good friends at VMware and Microsoft, will keep that trend going.