September 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."
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.)
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