Truth is generally the best vindication against slander – Abraham Lincoln

I recently received an email from one of our prospects sharing a competitive document with me that they would like us to respond to. Imagine my surprise when I realized the document was a competitive analysis of Aryaka versus Riverbed.

My first thought was: why would a successful public company like Riverbed with a billion dollars in revenue write and share a document like this? They are an established company with 15,000 customers according to their own claims, and we are a small private company with a little more than 100 customers.

Then it struck me! We are perhaps the biggest threat to them in their 10+ years of existence. We are innovating the way they should have.

Is this a sign of desperation? Is Riverbed getting desperate because they have exhausted the upper end of the market? The evidence would suggest that this is the case. Riverbed is failing to meet earnings goals, and Wall Street is punishing them.

What Wall Street analysts don’t realize, but many potential Riverbed customers are waking up to, is the fact that Riverbed’s solution was never built for the mid-market, nor was it designed to work with cloud-based applications.

Meanwhile, as Riverbed was failing to keep its promises to investors, Aryaka grew at 416% in 2012 and have tripled our revenue from the same time last year.

Bullhead

What is driving this growth? We are the world’s first (and only) WAN Optimization as-a-Service solution. And our solution has been designed and architected the way it is with a purpose in mind. That purpose is to bring to our customers the best solution possible, one that is easy to deploy and manage, that has a low cost of ownership, and that is designed to support computing in the age of the cloud. That is our innovation, and we intend to stay true to our DNA.

As the market leader, it was their responsibility to bring to market the most optimum solution for their customers. And they failed to do that. Let me tell you how and why they failed. And then let me share with you the details of their document, as well as how inaccurate it is and how it personifies the stereotypical marketing term “FUD” – putting Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt in the minds of enterprise buyers worldwide. It will fail to achieve this goal because the buyers of our service are savvy and understand their needs. They will not fall prey to this strategy from the 90s.

Riverbed was built for a world where enterprise networks were closed. The world Riverbed cared about was the largest of companies with large CapEx budgets and global IT staff. Bandwidth was expensive and the Internet was unreliable. All data and applications resided within the walls of these private networks. Appliances were everywhere. In the world Riverbed grew up in, the biggest selling factor for WAN optimization was bandwidth scaling, and then it was application performance. Keep in mind; Riverbed has never quite cared about the mid-market. The mid-market enterprise could never afford large data centers, private networks or staff to provision, run, manage and upgrade dozens of appliances. According to their own published numbers, less than 20% of Riverbed customer locations are ‘optimized’.

Fast forward to 2013. Cloud computing has started to become mainstream. Applications like Salesforce.com, Google Apps, Office 365 and thousands of other SaaS (Software as a Service) applications have increased adoption, even into the largest of enterprises. Compute and storage in the cloud is a well-accepted reality. Last mile bandwidth is relatively cheap in most parts of the world. Even Fortune 500 companies have offices spread everywhere that are being told to cut spending and branch office managers are being told to run these offices as if they were scrappy SMBs.

The closed enterprise network is a thing of the past, and there is no going back. To compete in today’s hyper-connected business world, business networks need to break open and allow users to access on-premise as well as ‘cloud’ applications in the most seamless way possible.

Aryaka is uniquely positioned to do just that. We provide optimized access to on-premise as well as cloud applications across one unified network with one web portal and 24/7 support included with the managed service. And we take it a step further. The same network now provides optimized delivery of web and IP based applications for customers, partners and mobile workers. Just like the rest of our design philosophy, it is simple and integrated. And we are built for the underserved mid-market with a comprehensive solution that replaces the need for the Riverbeds, MPLS and Akamai of the world.

Simplified networking.

The Riverbed model, on the other hand, has hit a wall. In attempting to climb over that wall, Riverbed has partnered with Akamai, getting them to “host” Riverbed’s Cloud Accelerator at their edge combined with their secret sauce, claiming that this will solve everyone’s access problems with Salesforce.com, Google Apps and Office 365.

Wait. Does anyone really think Google Apps and Salesforce.com need yesterday’s hardware to accelerate these modern applications?

Ask Benioff or Balmer or Brin and you will get your answer. All these companies are bigger and better equipped than Riverbed to deploy global data centers closer to their end users. They did not take large bets of moving to the cloud without working through the global user experience issue. Riverbed and Akamai are certainly not needed here. Who believes that the enterprise is willing to pay more money for one more ‘cloud’ appliance after looking at the TCO of deploying a cloud service? What does Riverbed do for the thousands of smaller cloud services that are in single datacenters and could actually use some help getting to a global user base? These are questions that beg to be asked, but the story of this partnership will play itself out in the marketplace.

Coming back to the document in question let me address each one of the claims head on.

  • Aryaka is a small company: And what is wrong with that? Every company including Riverbed and Akamai began as an idea and a small company. They grew into a billion dollars of revenue just like we will over time. And we have a hundred customers to stand behind us. I am hoping Riverbed is not implying that everyone should do business only with big companies. That’s a sure way to kill innovation in the Silicon Valley and worldwide.
  • Aryaka has no optimization for the last mile– the document is completely untrue – we also have an optional Aryaka Network Access Point (ANAP) for it, as you all well know- its on our website! The appliance is included with the service and is owned, run, managed, configured and upgraded by Aryaka. And it does not need to be symmetrically deployed- a key differentiator.
  • Aryaka is not secure because it has shared infrastructure– and so do Akamai, Salesforce.com, Google Apps and ALL cloud/SaaS services. The utility model is the future. Aryaka has been designed from the ground up to be secure end to end- right from the customer’s location to our datacenters across the network to the destination using industry standard encryption. Companies we work with have reviewed and validated our policies. Aryaka does not have as much application-specific optimization– once again the document is factually incorrect. We do have many more proxies than the ones mentioned here but that’s not really the point. The point is that we have consciously made the decision that our platform needs to be ubiquitous. It needs to provide great performance for most applications across most customers. And combined with our multi segment architecture, compression and de-duplication, for our customers, that’s good enough. We don’t intend to build a proxy per application written worldwide because that is not a scalable utility model following the law of diminishing returns. Ask that IT manager who needs to sit up nights upgrading their Steelheads globally just because they upgraded one enterprise application, all their proxies broke and the error messages their users got. Besides applications are being written so much smarter now.
  • Aryaka does not have mobile acceleration– nothing could be further from the truth. In line with our IT friendly philosophy, we do not believe in building a client application that needs to be installed per user device, then upgraded and managed. We have a more elegant way of providing the most optimum mobile user experience globally with the least disruption through our Application Delivery as-a-Service.
  • Aryaka’s network of 25 POPs is not as big as Akamai- To be fair, this is one area where I am somewhat of an expert. I will respond with one simple question- how many of the 3000 Akamai POPs are actually used for the delivery of a particular customer. Are we playing a ‘size matters’ game here or are we focused on the customers needs? Customers need an integrated simple solution for their enterprise networking needs. That’s what we give them along with the best customer service.

And I am happy to speak with anyone who’d like to know more about the Aryaka way.

Your comments are always welcome.

Sonal

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