“Cisco permanently changed the way we sell”
Guru Chahal, Vice President — Products, Avi Networks, talks about how the company has grown and its future roadmap
Tell me briefly about Avi Networks and its origin.
Avi Networks is about a five-year- old company. We are based out of Santa Clara. We got a start in late 2012, right around December of 2012 and the first engineers we hired were in January of 2013, so it’s been exactly about five years now. It’s been an amazing ride. The company was funded by Tier 1 investors in Silicon Valley. These are the same investors who are behind Palo Alto Networks …
So you would find it interesting that three of the board members or three of the executives and board members from Palo Alto Networks are on our board as well. So Asheem Chandna who runs the Greylock Capital, venture capitalist who invested in Palo Alto Networks, also invested in Avi Networks. Then Dan Warmenhoven who is the ex- chairman of NetApp and also on our board, is also on the board of Palo Alto.
What was the founding principle of Avi
Networks and how has it evolved over the years?
We started in 2012 with a very simple thesis. The thesis was as digital experience has become more important to consumers, applications and web delivery are increasingly more important than everything else. But as applications become the life blood of enterprises they need to deliver these applications quickly to their end customers. So they need to bring them online very quickly, otherwise he is going to lose customers.
Overseas applications are online, and as the need is to keep these applications secure so encrypt the conversation with customers. Make sure the applications are always available even if my whole data center is on fire. I should be able to redirect that traffic from you to another website somewhere maybe on the other side of the world but satisfy the customer.
So keep the applications available and monitor that interaction in real time. So we are really, what our platform provides is a set of network services that stay close to the applications, help keep the application available, secure, and help the enterprises or banks or the technology companies monitor the application usage in real time that’s our thesis.
How has Avi Networks grown over the years and how has the target focus shifted during this time?
We took about two and half years to develop the platform and then we launched it about three years ago. The company has grown massively from the beginning. We had about 5x growth in the first year as we acquired some of the largest enterprises on the planet especially in banking and telecos. Primarily locating in U.S. and India, in the second year we grew 5x over the first year. Third year we just finished with 3x over the previous year and next year again we are expecting to grow 2x.
The focus after the first year expanded from banking and teleco to banking, teleco, service providers and retailers in our second year. And now in our third year it’s global. It’s global today as we sell in India too. We don’t have any public references in India but some of the blue chip technology companies in India use our solutions today. We sell through CISCO which is a great relationship. It’s a very strategic partnership for us. And that has permanently changed how we sell.
Other than CISCO, which are the other partners Avi Networks works with? And all these relationships are also in all geographies including India?
So CISCO is our only large strategic partner that resells us. We do have strong partnerships with Mirantis for OpenStack, with RedHat for OpenStack and OpenShift which is a container platform and with VMware for their NSX platform. But the strongest relationship and only resell relationship that we have is with CISCO.
These relationships are worldwide. So anywhere customers deploy VMware’s networking solutions they can use us as well. Anywhere they deploy RedHat, OpenZStack or OpenShift solutions they can deploy us as well. Anywhere CISCO sellss globally, those customers can buy our solution, our software, our platform through CISCO, when they need support. They can just call CISCO, CISCO takes the first call, have some debugging dfone, anything if they need our engineers on the call they get the same.
In terms of business how was 2017 for the company?
So we just closed our year and that is again a record year for us. Record number of – record year, we are a private company so we don’t announce our earnings but it was a record year for us, record revenues, record number of customers, record number of new customers. The largest deal in Avi Networks’ history was closed this year in the last quarter. And there was about 3x growth in the last year. So it’s just fantastic growth and we are expecting the same to continue next year as well.
Specifically looking at the Indian market what’s the total customer base here?
We just started selling in Indian market a few months ago, about two quarters ago. In fact, right after the meeting our first sales team in India it is still very small. So less than ten customers right now. But that’s a little bit misleading because these customers are very large global enterprises.
They are more, I would say 75% -80% of business in India, is concentrated in technology and retail. And now we are branching out into banking also.Our next two targets are government, they are huge buyers of products like this as well as banking.
And as the last two quarters you are being operative in India, what is the sort of the structure and size and expansion plans for India specifically?
So we have actually been in India in two sort of ways for years now. So we have a very large development office in Bangalore which is about a third of the company. So I think over 60 or 70 employees in Bangalore. And that’s been primarily R&D. First professional services and some support out of that office. So that’s been going on for about several years.
GURU CHAHAL, Vice President, Products, AVI Networks