The Way Business Is Moving published by
Issue Date: March 2008

Linking streams of data

1 March 2008

Andrew Seldon asked Riverbed’s Christo Briedenhann about the company and its plans in South Africa.
Network Times: Who and what is Riverbed? What does the company do and what does it do different to its competitors?
Christo Briedenhann: Riverbed operates in the wide-area data services (WDS) space, allowing organisations to connect their data centres, remote offices, and remote workers with LAN-like speed. Riverbed delivers high performance levels across a broad range of applications over WANs, accelerating applications by up to 100X and reducing WAN traffic by up to 95%. With this order-of-magnitude improvement in performance, Riverbed makes distributed collaboration, IT consolidation, and network-based backup a reality for companies of every size.
Christo Briedenhann, country manager: South Africa at Riverbed Technology
Christo Briedenhann, country manager: South Africa at Riverbed Technology
Network Times: How does your technology differ from other similar offerings on the market?
Christo Briedenhann: We have over 3000 customers, among them many of the largest banks in the world, many of the major oil companies, the largest government agencies in the world, and hundreds of small businesses with just a few locations. To date, we have over 40% market share worldwide. We win more than 90% of the head-to-head competitive evaluations that customers perform in their own labs.
Our success comes down to three main reasons: performance, ease of use, and scalability. Our products reach out to the mobile worker, remote office, and data centre equally well. Only with a built-from-the-ground-up integrated approach to WDS from Riverbed can customers achieve LAN-like speed across their wide-area network to dramatically accelerate all critical business processes on a global scale.
Our products have been proven, through over 3000 customer successes, to give the broadest performance improvements across the widest range of applications that enterprises care about the most. Those include Windows-based applications, e-mail, Web based applications like Oracle and SAP, SSL-encrypted apps, backup and replication applications, and more. Our products are easy to deploy. We have a number of key features such as enhanced auto-discovery, flexible in-path and out-of-path deployment and touch-less configuration which make it easy to get our devices into your network and manage them over time.
Finally, our products scale the best. We have large devices that can support around 10 000 users, small devices that handle offices with just a few people, software for the individual laptop or mobile user, and everything in between.
Network Times: Give a brief breakdown of the products Riverbed has on offer?
Christo Briedenhann: The Riverbed Optimisation System (RiOS) is a software platform that runs on Riverbed's standard based Steelhead appliances or on laptops/desktops (using Steelhead Mobile) that accelerates applications across the WAN. RiOS software combines patented data deduplication, TCP optimisation, application-level latency optimisation, and remote office file and management functionality. Together, these technologies provide a comprehensive solution for enterprise-class wide-area data services, scaling across a range of applications and network topologies to accelerate applications by up to 100x.
Riverbed technology will offer our customers the following benefits:
Application acceleration: Riverbed helps companies run applications up to 100 times faster over the wide-area network. With Riverbed, companies worldwide can get LAN-like performance just about anywhere - from remote offices to the entire mobile workforce. As the worldwide technology and market leader in wide-area data services (WDS) solutions, Riverbed is changing the way people work by helping companies improve productivity, office-to-office collaboration and remote file-sharing.
IT consolidation: Riverbed is the worldwide technology and market leader in wide-area data services (WDS) solutions, helping companies of every size reduce the cost, complexity and vulnerability of IT infrastructures. Riverbed gives IT architects the freedom to consolidate servers, applications and backup equipment without degrading performance - and helps them cut IT maintenance and management costs dramatically.
Bandwidth optimisation: Riverbed is the worldwide technology and market leader in wide-area data services (WDS) solutions, helping companies of every size cut bandwidth usage over the wide-area network by 60% to 95%, as well as de-provision current bandwidth and defer bandwidth upgrades. Riverbed helps reduce network congestion, easing the deployment of additional applications.
Backup and replication: Riverbed helps companies of every size cut backup time over the wide-area network by 75% to 98% so they can improve backup freshness and consistency. Riverbed helps IT managers centralise backup and recovery of servers and desktop machines, speeding up replication of data repositories between data centres.
Steelhead mobile: Riverbed helps companies get LAN-like performance just about anywhere - from remote offices to the entire mobile workforce. With Steelhead mobile, workers can access and share files over the wide-area network from anywhere with wind-in-your-hair speeds previously only available over the LAN, allowing them to work orders of magnitude faster. At the same time, Riverbed allows IT managers to reduce complexity and cost.
Network Times: How long has the company been operating in SA, directly and indirectly? Who are your local partners?
Christo Briedenhann: Directly, just over one year. Indirectly for about two years. Networks Unlimited is our value-added distributor, while Datacentrix, Faritec, Cornastone and Eclipse are authorised resellers. HP, IBM and Orange are global partners.
Network Times: Which markets will you be targeting in 2008 (globally and in SA)? Where will your local sweet spot be?
Christo Briedenhann: Riverbed's integrated solution architecture addresses performance issues for branch office users as well as mobile workers. This allows Riverbed's customers to achieve key strategic goals, such as:
* Reduced costs and complexity of data storage and management.

* Significantly faster application response time to enhance branch office user productivity.

* Improved compliance with legal, regulatory, and business policy requirements.

* Improved security of corporate information assets consolidated to fewer highly-secure sites.

* Increased operational simplicity of assets, processes, and resources.
In particular, storage and server consolidation can yield a tremendous return-on-investment (ROI), as long as remote user application performance over the WAN can be preserved. Riverbed's Steelhead solution delivers LAN-like performance for many applications, which provides a way for customers to simultaneously reduce costs and centralise key IT infrastructure, without sacrificing performance. A large proportion of Riverbed's 3000 customers are able to centralise significant amounts of infrastructure formerly deployed in remote branch offices, including IT assets such as:
* Tape backup systems (autoloaders).

* File servers.

* Enterprise application servers.

* Network attached storage (NAS).

* Microsoft exchange servers.
Disaster recovery is another critical concern for IT managers. To protect against catastrophic loss of the corporate information base, many enterprises have requirements to transfer vast amounts of their data to a disaster recovery site. The Riverbed Steelhead solution makes this possible in cases where WAN bandwidth constraints previously would have required an expensive network upgrade. Furthermore, the Riverbed solution allows enterprises to reduce backup windows by as much as 90%, allowing data replication to occur with much greater frequency, and providing better protection for corporate data.
To answer the question on which markets we are going to focus on - everyone. Riverbed's technology fits all the vertical markets. In Africa, we have huge opportunities in government, the financial sector, manufacturing and telcos. Every company using a WAN is a potential Riverbed customer. Our technology allows organisations to consolidate IT infrastructure, enable higher productivity for remote offices, decrease frustration for end-users, dramatically shorten backup and replication time, and reduce bandwidth congestion up to 95%.
Customers see a payback period of just three to 11 months, consisting of both hard savings and productivity gains.

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