In a conversation with IDG India, Dante Malagrino, SVP & GM, Cloud Infrastructure Business Unit, Riverbed, and Mike Sargent, SVP & GM, SteelCentral Business Unit/Digital Experience Management, Riverbed reveal how the company is transforming user experience, and setting new benchmarks for success.
How is the India business faring for Riverbed? What according to you are the current expectations and demands from enterprises?
Mike Sargent: We grew by over 100 percent last year in India. Customers are taking advantage of the best of both - the experience monitoring side of things, combined with the NextGen networking.
So many of the investments that are being made that are digital transformation in nature, are about our customers reaching out and building new business models to touch their customers differently, because they’re mobile.
Dante Malagrino: India has been one of the fastest growing regions in Asia Pacific. The reason for this is the need for improvement on the experience, from a user perspective, is pervasive in markets where there is digital transformation in action.
In India, the demographics are such, that the population tends to be on the younger side, and this is a population that would expect a certain level of experience when they access the services and most of these services are online now. Actually, right now we talk about succeeding not only with our customers, but with our customer’s customers.
Why is it difficult to measure new technologies?
Dante Malagrino: If you think about the application architecture in an organization before cloud and SaaS, everything was in the datacenter. The datacenter was where the crown jewels were - the data, the apps, everything sits in the datacenter.
Users are generally sitting at their desk or maybe at their laptops or in their office, central or branch locations. So the traffic partners were all entirely there. At the very most, you had to probably have one website that would expose your business to your customers. Now things have become lot more complicated because of a couple of trends.
One is clearly cloud. The advent of cloud has taken organizations to move some of their application workload, especially the custom workloads into the cloud, because it’s more flexible, you can use containers more simply. On the other end, you see customers becoming more mobile, that’s because they are not working in the office anymore.
You have software-as-a-service coming into play. So now applications are hosted by third parties. So from a monetary perspective, you cannot put probe in a Microsoft datacenter. They are never going to let you do it; or in Salesforce datacenter inbox. But you still need to measure that performance.
And the dimension that comes into play, is that now the interaction you have with your customers is not limited to one website anymore, but it’s a much more dynamic transactional interaction from the phone, from the watch, from the tablet.
So this is the level of complexity that didn’t exist before. And if you think about that level of complexity, the evolution from the simple model to these more complicated sophisticated model, is also the evolution that Riverbed has gone through.
You probably used to think of Riverbed as a WAN optimization company. I think, that name doesn’t really represent what Riverbed has always done, because Riverbed optimized the use of WAN, but the real value proposition of Riverbed has always been the ability to accelerate applications from the datacenter to the user. So it’s a 360 world that comes together, not only in terms of accelerating these, but in terms of measuring and monitoring how things are going.
There’s still a concern amongst Indian IT heads that moving to a cloud is cost intensive. So, how do you address that? Or how has the conversation with CIOs today evolved?
Dante Malagrino: The conversation with CIOs has shifted from an ‘or’ to an ‘and’. Everybody realizes that cloud is happening, and there’s no fighting the cloud. But it’s not going to be cloud only. And that is why the picture gets so complicated. It is not that the datacenter goes away and everything comes to the cloud.
People are building new applications for the cloud. Now, when they do that, what still becomes an issue? For example, the cost of bandwidth to reach the cloud maybe a problem, or the way you reach the cloud - you reach the cloud through MPLS, you reach the cloud going through the datacenter or do you reach the cloud via public internet, which is much cheaper and provides probably sufficient level of performance?
But then if you do that, how do you make sure that you have the network infrastructure that allows you to utilize this connectivity properly and in the right way. So that’s where technologies like SD-WAN, for example, which is part of our digital networking portfolio, come into play and support that model.
Are CIOs still worried about the security aspect?
“Even if you identify a perimeter, do you actually own the perimeter? Because, if there is a third party hosting your application and software as a service, if your network is integrated with your customers’ devices, you cannot put that firewall in your customers’ phones or in Microsoft or Oracle.”
Dante Malagrino: We are talking about zero tasks now, perimeter going all the way to our phones, so things have changed dramatically. Even if you identify a perimeter, do you actually own the perimeter? Because, if there is a third party hosting your application and software as a service, if your network is integrated with your customers’ devices, you cannot put that firewall in your customers’ phones or in Microsoft or Oracle. So, there are new models that have appeared.
If you look at the cloud security model, they are very different than the classic appliance model, they are more distributed. The key point here is that, even when you use those security approaches, there is one problem that might chime in with the second part, because we have this conversation very often.
But one of the problems you have is, how do you direct your traffic properly to the cloud access security broker and then over to the cloud, and how do you make sure that that happens in that place? And that’s what technologies like SD-WAN bring to the table.
So up till now, the researchers basically said that while attacks were more on the end point, CIOs looked at securing the datacenter, cloud, etc. But now that seems to have reversed, especially with the incidents such as Marriott attacks; even an AC is vulnerable. So, is there a demand from your customers or is there a shift towards securing the end point?
Dante Malagrino: The customers are demanding a different model that adapts to the new architecture, to the new network, to the new configuration. The traditional classical appliance, DMZ model, doesn’t work anymore.
It could go all the way to the end point, and that’s definitely one option. If it doesn’t do that; it’s not the option that works right now. Maybe they buy cloud security service from a company like Palo Alto Networks. But then they still need the ability to have a network infrastructure that integrates well with the cloud security service, which the traditional network doesn’t do.
And that’s where SD-WAN comes in. Or better said, SD-WAN with proper integration with security services, which is what we do. So we have integration with those, and that’s one of the reasons why many customers use our technology today.
What about the growth expected in 2019 in India?
Mike Sargent: Well, for me there was only a 100 percent growth, we ought to be doing much more. We are bullish, we have got several things lined up. India is an attractive market. It has got a natural growth to it, but we believe we have got momentum relative to our competitors and we believe we can take share proportionally. So we are quite bullish on the level of growth we are going to achieve in the market place.