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Avi's Fire-Breathing New CEO Scorches Competitors

Mitch Wagner
9/14/2015

Avi Networks's new CEO wasted no time flaming incumbents, including F5 and Citrix, saying those companies are mired in the past and not ready to deliver the agility New IP networks need from application delivery controllers.

"There just hasn't been any real innovation in ADC and load balancing," says Amit Pandey, Avi Networks 's new CEO. Pandey spent nearly ten years at NetApp in a variety of executive positions, then did two successful stints at startups, as CEO of TerraCotta, which was acquired by Software AG , and then CEO of Zenprise, later acquired by Citrix Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CTXS).

Pandey succeeds Avi co-founder Umesh Mahajan, who becomes chief strategy officer, working with strategic customer accounts and key technology partners. It's a friendly transition, with Pandey brought in for his business skills and experience, a company spokesman says.

Pandey says he headed up NetApp's NetCache business in 1998, and finds ADCs essentially unchanged today. "The feature set is the same. There have been some bells and whistles added, but the basic functionality hasn't changed in the last 15 years or so," Pandey says.

The biggest change for networks has been the need for self-service private clouds using OpenStack, VMware Inc. (NYSE: VMW) or containers, using automation and scripting, with "fungible [exchangeable] capacity," Pandey says. "You don't say 'I'm going to build a flexible, self-service, easy-to-provision environment' and buy a massive load balancer tied to a cost and usage model which is completely misaligned with spinning up capacity as needed," Pandey says.

He adds, "Citrix and F5 have paid lip service. They've taken a VM and wrapped it around hardware and called it software. People who use it say they find it just as hard to use. It's sluggish."

Avi's products are designed to provide the kind of elastic capacity that network operators need for New IP networks, Pandey says. (See Avi Networks Takes ADCs to the Cloud.)

Service provider customers are looking to deploy next-generation ADCs for internal use and in self-service cloud environments they deliver to their customers, Pandey says.

In addition to Pandey's professional credentials, he brings an unusual and rich personal background to Avi. He grew up splitting his time between Texas and Botswana. His father was an education and media technology professor at Texas A&M who was invited by the Botswana government to teach in that country temporarily and stayed for 25 years. Pandey loves Botswana, which he described as fast-growing with a stable, democratic government -- an "area of peace and prosperity in an area that has a lot of turmoil," he says.


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He now lives in Silicon Valley with his wife and children.

We asked Pandey what hobbies he won't have time for now that he's running a startup; he said he's an avid mountain biker "The harder I work, the more I need to get out on the bike and ride. On the uphills, I think of the business problems I'm working on. On the downhills, I clear my mind so I don't crash," he said.

We hope Pandey has mapped out bike routes with plenty of uphills, because he has many challenges. Despite his criticism of F5 and Citrix, they are staunch competitors with big market share. And Brocade Communications Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: BRCD)'s in the game too; it acquired the SteelApp virtual ADC to beef up its NFV strategy in February. Around that time, Dell'Oro Group noted virtual ADC appliances grew grew 17% quarter-over-quarter, compared with 1% growth for the physical ADC appliance market. (See Brocade Scoops Up Riverbed's SteelApp ADC.)

— Mitch Wagner, Circle me on Google+ Follow me on TwitterVisit my LinkedIn profileFollow me on Facebook, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading. Got a tip about SDN or NFV? Send it to [email protected]

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mendyk
mendyk
9/14/2015 | 2:30:52 PM
Re: Executive trash talk
National elections are also a huge revenue generator for broadcasters and cable companies. At this point, the economic model for "the system" is that big money is funneling through candidates and PACs and going to the media outlets that most big money, candidates, and PACs say they despise. So one of the reasons we now have an 18-month (and growing) election cycle is that it's good for business.
brooks7
brooks7
9/14/2015 | 2:21:22 PM
Re: Executive trash talk
Until the field narrows and people have to start taking things seriously.  I mean who is paying attention to next year's election already?  At the Presidential Level, I can ignore the whole thing.  I live in California so that means we are voting for the Democratic Nominee.  So none of it makes any difference to me other than it occupies valuable TV time.

:)

seven

 
mendyk
mendyk
9/14/2015 | 11:21:15 AM
Re: Executive trash talk
It also helps you get to the front of the pack in a political race, apparently.
sowen557
sowen557
9/14/2015 | 11:19:29 AM
Re: Executive trash talk
Doesnt hurt to make a remark against established players in the marketplace.  Gets you some good press "Lightreading will eat this up!" and gets people out of a status quo looking at an upstart. 
brooks7
brooks7
9/14/2015 | 10:35:32 AM
Re: Executive trash talk
Yeah and his trash talk is pretty much what is required for a small competitor.  Think about something mundane like a car.  You could make the same arguments that he is making about car manufacturers.  They really do about the same thing that they have been doing for the last 100 years.

Which is the question.  Does the ADC/Load Balancer market need a technology disruption?  If so what is it and why?  

seven

 
mendyk
mendyk
9/14/2015 | 10:09:26 AM
Executive trash talk
This seems to be a trend now -- execs calling out their competitors in unflattering ways. The ones who do this certainly call attention to themselves, but not too long ago these statements would have been classified as cheap shots.
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