Networking

F5 CEO talks growth

What kind of opportunities do you see in this market?

We are convinced that most of the growth opportunities globally are emerging markets. The beauty of the internet is that it has really been picked up by businesses and consumers all over the world. We are really a profitable company with stacks of cash, but what we have to do to get back into the growth mode is to focus on the newer markets where we don’t have much penetration.

There has been a dip in revenues for your company in the second quarter. What is the outlook for the third?

Given the current economic climate, the answer to that is, we really don’t know because of limited visibility. If you look at our business over the last 6 months, October- November were really strong, way about previous quarter, and then it slowed down in December. Just when we thought we are going to be another casuality, along came Jan, which was really good. February was awful, and then it has actually been ok in March and April. So, we really can’t see a pattern here. It’s completely different metrics now.

You have application specific partnerships. Is your growth going to be synergized with the growth of these application vendors?

Yes, we do get business that is driven by Microsoft and other application vendors. In fact, Microsoft generates the most, followed by Oracle, SAP and others. But, that’s only 30-35% of our business. We get massive amount of business from service providers. Last quarter, 26% of our business came from telcos, mainly mobile service providers, which is identical in the Middle East as well. If you look at trends in our business, it tends to be very global. Around 20% of our business comes from big internet companies.

Which are the biggest vertical markets for you?

Telecom which account for 25%, followed by banking and finance that contributes 20%. Banks in every geography are still buying because internet is so critical. Then we have what we call the technology vertical, which is mainly big internet company. Health and manufacturing are picking up for us. Airline is another major sector, where we have hundreds of customers.

With traditional network vendors – Cisco and Juniper – getting more serious about application acceleration, are you worried that acceleration features – Layer 4-7, as well as compression and offload – will just become functions of routers and switches?

We believe that you can do acceleration work in switches and routers, but it tends to be very limited in its features set. The more sophisticated you get, with encryption of data, and application firewall types – that can slow a switch down. The switch's main job is to get packets through. We're convinced you need to do Layer 4-7 tasks right beside the server, right in the data center.

If you look at Cisco, they did invest heavily in this area; they came up with AON, now that is gone, same with SONA as well. The issue is you can’t do what we do in a network. If you want a good definition of the competition landscape, Citrix with its Netscaler is the only company that competes with us technically. But they have not really developed much in the last three years.

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