Buyback program intensifies Aryaka/Riverbed rivalry

Cloud-based WAN optimization upstart slams more established rival as ‘desperate.’

WAN optimization-as-a-service provider Aryaka has announced an aggressive buyback program that targets competitor Riverbed's customers, adding a new point of contention to an already heated rivalry.

Aryaka is offering reimbursement to buyers of Riverbed Steelhead appliances who switch to the former company's service, per a Tweet posted on Tuesday. The company explains that it will pay “100% of the remaining value of all Riverbed Steelhead appliances.”

[MORE CLOUD: Amazon slashes prices up to 80% to lure public-cloud wary enterprises]

Aryaka CEO Ajit Gupta said in a statement that the move should help free up new customers.

“We designed the Riverbed Steelhead 100 Percent Buy Back Program to help companies remove the constraints imposed by on-premise solutions vendors now rather than wait for refresh cycles on equipment months or years down the road,” he said.

Riverbed had no comment for this story as of the time of publication.

A “competitive document” written for a client by Riverbed recently wound up in the hands of Aryaka, provoking a heated exchange of blog posts and public statements.

The comparative analysis of the companies' offerings unsurprisingly casts Riverbed's technology as more mature and robust than Aryaka's, painting the smaller company's infrastructure as rudimentary and its feature set as spotty. Specifically, Riverbed claims that Aryaka's 25 points-of-presence simply aren't enough to guarantee easy direct access for all potential customers, and that it lacks last-mile optimization capability.

Aryaka's response, published late last month, was headlined with an Abraham Lincoln quote that includes the word “slander.”

“My first thought was: why would a successful public company like Riverbed with a billion dollars in revenue write and share a document like this?” wrote marketing and sales vice president Sonal Puri. “Then it struck me! We are perhaps the biggest threat to them in their 10+ years of existence.”

Aryaka attacked much of Riverbed's criticism as FUD, characterizing several specific points as either inaccurate or irrelevant. Puri's article, however, also slammed the larger competitor for being generally out of touch and pointed to Riverbed's declining earnings figures as evidence that the company is behind the times.

Riverbed's Steve Riley returned fire, saying that, actually, Aryaka's description of his company's services amounted to FUD, and jeering the idea that Riverbed is at all worried about being supplanted by Aryaka.

“Yes, every day of every week of every year, we huddle in our dreary, frozen offices, perpetually glancing around dark and spooky corners. Every little bump gives us the heebie jeebies! Every frothy blahg post makes us cower in a torpid stupor! Or a stupid torpor! Or something! Ah, we are ascared, you guyz,” wrote Riley, tongue firmly in cheek.

Email Jon Gold at jgold@nww.com and follow him on Twitter at @NWWJonGold.

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