Riverbed Rumors Seem Idle Talk

In recent weeks, speculation has surfaced about Riverbed Technology as both a potential acquirer and an acquisition target.

People and companies do strange things, so nothing is irrevocably off the table. Still, I don’t envision Riverbed being acquired in the near term.

Cisco, with which Riverbed competes fiercely in the WAN-optimization space, has been mentioned as a potential buyer. I just don’t see it, though.

Cisco appears to be holding its own in WAN optimization, and while it would like more breathing room between itself, Riverbed, and Blue Coat Systems — which, with its Packeteer products, is the other major player in that space — Cisco probably feels it has enough in-house expertise and marketing might to grow its share of that particular market.

Each of the three major vendors will tell you it leads in WAN optimization. Indeed, each attempts to slice and dice the market eclectically so that arrives at a self-fulfilled prophecy of segment leadership. As noted, it is an intensely competitive space, eminently conducive to marketing creativity.

One possibility that has been mentioned is that Riverbed might look to buy minor players in the segment to boost its account coverage and market share. It’s a possibility, I suppose, but I’m not sure the company will arrive at a risk-reward profile or cost-benefit analysis to justify such a move.

Riverbed already is digesting an acquisition, of Mazu Networks, and it also has new partnerships that require sustained care and feeding. It seems to have enough on its ambitious plate.


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