“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

PCQuest - - CONTENTS - Jy­oti Bha­gat jy­otib@cy­ber­me­dia.co.in

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

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