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BW Businessworld

'India Is A Strategic Market For Growth'

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In information technology and systems management domain, Application Performance Management (APM) is the monitoring and organization of performance and the ease of use of software applications. APM aims to detect and diagnose application performance problems to maintain an expected level of service. 
Riverbed is the leader in application performance infrastructure, providing solutions for end-to-end application visibility, optimization, and control in hybrid IT environments. More than 26,000 companies rely on the Riverbed Application Performance Platform for superior application performance that drives superior business performance. Paul Coates, vice president, Riverbed Technology, speaks with BW | Businessworld’s Manish Kumar Pathak about the journey and the expertise of Riverbed Technology. He also talks about India as a different market.
What is the expertise of Riverbed Technology?
We live in a world where application performance equals business performance. Riverbed Technology is the ‘The Application Performance Company’ – we provide solutions for end-to-end application visibility, optimization and control in hybrid IT environments.
We’re known primarily for pioneering WAN optimization with Riverbed SteelHead, which first shipped in 2004 and continues to lead the market with over 50% market share. But as IT evolved over the past decade and moved to the cloud, Riverbed has also evolved. Businesses increasingly rely on applications and data that run both on-premises data centers as well as in the cloud, deliver to users over a mix of public and private networks. This is what is referred to as the hybrid enterprise.
Hybrid architectures and SaaS applications bring significant benefits to organizations – agility/time to market, cost savings, flexibility – but also challenges, such as complexity of multiple clouds, networks, service providers, plus end-users everywhere and hundreds of applications that need to be managed and delivered across a mix of networks. Riverbed offers a platform to help companies manage this.
The Riverbed Application Performance Platform combines solutions in three key areas, Riverbed SteelHead for application acceleration; Riverbed SteelFusion the first and only hyper-converged infrastructure for Branch IT; and Riverbed SteelCentral for network and application performance management. Together, these solutions help ensure that applications perform as expected, data is always available when needed, and performance issues are diagnosed and cured before end-users even notice.
How has Riverbed managed to keep pace with the evolving technology?
As IT has continued to evolve as it always does, becoming virtual, cloudy, social and mobile at a rapid pace, we’ve had to evolve as a company too. We’ve been successful in leveraging our core strength – application acceleration over wide area networks (WANs) – to address the new challenges of the hybrid enterprise. What Riverbed did for the WAN, we’re now doing for the cloud and SaaS applications.
When we started the company 13 years ago, we gave people the opportunity to move their servers and users apart by fixing the issue of latency. Then people said they wanted the ability to measure performance between their users and their data and we developed the solution.
Now organisations are saying they can’t afford the risk of having data at their branch offices – and we solved this challenge by enabling organisations to have zero IT in the branch – no servers, no storage, and no backup required. As a result, branch operations can be instantly provisioned, without needing IT talent on-site and they can also be instantly recovered.
Simply put, we created our own market, allowing enterprises to have zero IT at the branch.
Can you explain WAN optimization in brief and what is Riverbed’s role in this space?
WAN optimization is a collection of techniques to enhance data-transfer efficiencies across wide-area networks. Riverbed pioneered WAN optimization with SteelHead—and we continue to lead the market more than a decade after we shipped the first SteelHead to Environment Canada in April 2004. 
We’ve continued to build on this innovation. And today, SteelHead accelerates the delivery of all applications – on premise, cloud and SaaS - across the hybrid enterprise. It also provides better visibility into application and network performance and the end user experience plus control through an application-aware approach to hybrid networking and path selection based on centralized, business intent-based policies for what you want to achieve – as a business.
We view WAN optimization as an important tool in the application performance management toolkit. But that toolkit must also include end-to-end visibility and greater control across application and network performance. Together, these tools ensure applications perform as expected, data is always available when needed, and performance issues are detected and fixed before end users even notice.
Any key verticals you are looking at expanding?
In India, we can see strong interest from industries such as banking/FSI, manufacturing and IT services. However, our customers span multiple industries and our technologies are well suited to any business looking to turn application performance into a competitive advantage.
New Media usage is growing at an exponential rate in India? What are your plans for India? 
The rise of digital medium in India is an area of real focus for us at Riverbed globally and is part of the transformation we are undertaking in how we market to our customers. As India is fast becoming one of the biggest and most discerning consumers of new media, we recognize that this is one area where we must engage and interact with our customers in an even deeper way. For Riverbed, it’s about bringing our vision, leadership and experience in application performance management to a vastly broader audience across multiple industries and roles. We’re currently in the final phases of planning and content development around this and will be focusing our initial efforts in online and direct B2B engagements initially.
Will the blueprint for business be the same here, or will there be changes accordingly?
Riverbed is a global company and our strategy is to be the leader in application performance management – globally. Our goal here in India is to bring the experience, the innovation and the success we have had around the world and use that in an India context.

Every market is unique in its own ways and so our role is to understand the market, our customers, the business environment; making Riverbed and our industry-leading portfolio relevant here. There are unique opportunities in India that gives me every confidence for our future potential here: distance and location challenges, limited bandwidth, application complexity, irregular data backup are all factors in how we position our lead solutions. One thing is true however, no matter what country you are in, or what industry or sector, application performance is essential to business performance. 
What are the new products and platforms launched by the company, and how are they performing? 
One of the core areas we’re focusing on innovating in is visibility. Visibility is increasingly difficult to achieve with today’s complex hybrid IT environments and applications, which often span traditional data centers, third-party hosting facilities, branch offices, mobile devices, and SaaS and IaaS-based clouds. At the same time, delivering applications is also becoming more complex as networks evolve to a hybrid model combining private and public links. 
Riverbed is bringing a new approach to solving the challenges of complexity with a holistic operational view of the complete IT environment. In fact, just last month, we announced Riverbed SteelCentral Portal, a breakthrough visibility solution for managing application performance in a hybrid IT environment. SteelCentral Portal is a unique combination of end-user experience monitoring, network performance management (NPM), and application performance management (APM) capabilities that blends performance data from our industry-leading SteelCentral visibility and SteelHead optimization and control solutions.

This holistic view gives IT teams and business managers a single source of truth – and an unparalleled level of both broad and deep visibility – so that they can more quickly identify root causes of performance issues and drill down to fix them fast. 
We also recently announced Riverbed SteelFusion 4.0, the first and only branch converge infrastructure solution that enables the consolidation of 100% of data and servers from remote sites into data centers, centralizing data security and IT management, without losing any of the benefits of running branch services locally. We refer to this as “Zero IT at the branch” which means no servers, no storage, no backup at the branch; instant provisioning and recovery; complete security and visibility; and applications simply work. 
We want enterprises to rethink branch IT. As branch offices, remote locations and store fronts become more and more important to delivering customer engagement and new services, IT contends with supporting islands of infrastructure than have been necessary, yet costly and inefficient to maintain, to meet local performance and reliability needs.

Riverbed believes that supporting branch offices shouldn’t be this challenging, which is why we’re delivering the branch of the future by offering SteelFusion - a zero branch IT solution.
Finally, the issue of CSR in India is quite a prominent one. Can you provide details of your social responsibility?
The environment and human health are very important to Riverbed Technology and we have implemented practices to ensure we are doing our part as a global organization. We look for environmental improvement opportunities across all phases of our products' lifecycles and continuously oversee our compliance with local and international laws. For instance, we work with ISO-certified manufacturers and require our suppliers to provide certificates of compliance that declare the absence of restricted materials in the products they supply to us.
We are ultimately committed to reducing the environmental footprint internally and for our customers.
Our worldwide community investments support anti-poverty programs, natural disaster relief and disadvantaged youth. Riverbed employees believe in impacting these causes, making the company’s charitable giving program, the Riverbed Employees Assisting Community and Helping Out (REACH OUT) programme, entirely fuelled by their passion to make significant and noticeable change immediately.  
What about your customers in India and overseas?
Riverbed’s 26,000 plus customers include 97 per cent of the Fortune 100 and 98 per cent of the Forbes Global 100.
• Cox and Kings India deployed Riverbed’s SteelHead appliances and Steelhead Mobile to improve performance of their legacy business application, improve end user experience, WAN optimization and acceleration, and most importantly protect its investment in an MPLS VPN. 
• When SABMiller India decided to consolidate its IT Infrastructure, their implementation of SteelHead products helped boost application performance and eliminate the need to increase bandwidth. They now enjoy file transfers over the WAN at 10 to 50 times faster depending on file size, emails are ten times faster, and Web applications are 15 times faster with SteelHead products.
• Intuit runs on Riverbed to ensure system availability during tax season and has reduced troubleshooting time 80% with the use of SteelCentral solutions. 
• Del Monte, with all its apps in the cloud, relies on Riverbed to get high-quality products to market faster.
• By running its frictionless enterprise on Riverbed, Tribune Media has consolidated from 54 to just one software-defined data center and nearly tripled its capacity to deliver projects of value to the business.
• Michelin has reduced application rollout time by 30% with Riverbed providing visibility into the qualification of apps during development.
• Australia-based MTC Work Solutions eliminated SaaS application performance issues that were crippling its business, improving performance of Office 365 by 300 per cent