Glenodonnell Tuesday, January 20th, Riverbed Technology announced its acquisition of Mazu Networks for $25 million in cash with the possibility of an additional payment up to $22 million if future sales meet or exceed $35 million in the 12 months after closing. Mazu, which provides an application and device performance monitoring and reporting solution, will be integrated with Riverbed’s current WAN Optimization offering to provide a more comprehensive solution for enterprises. In addition, the move also shows a competitive response to Blue Coat Systems’ acquisition of Packeteer last year.

Mazu’s history in network performance reporting and analysis makes it a great acquisition for Riverbed, further promoting its broader appeal to enterprises seeking this information for capacity planning, governance, and security needs. Additionally, as Mazu is a genuine innovator in application dependency mapping and application analysis, the acquisition instantly fortifies Riverbed as a credible player in application performance optimization. The full circle of application visibility and control is needed to fulfill this market need and now Riverbed has both phases of the cycle covered.

The analysis elements of application performance optimization remain as some of the most difficult goals in IT, but it is essential that we all find tools to improve this situation. Many tools can tell us we have a problem, but few can tell us why. While no vendor has yet conquered this enigma, Mazu offers technology that is among the more promising methods. Forrester believes this will serve Riverbed well and more importantly, its customers.

IT Service Management (ITSM) is all about the applications. Optimizing IT services requires us to optimize applications, not to simply report on them. The word “management” implies action. Reporting still requires action to be manual. Manual action must be minimized, so tighter linkages between data collection, reporting, analysis, and active controls are needed for optimization. As you build these linkages, you get closer to a vision of automating service adaptation. We are far from that utopian vision, but we inch closer with each link. The Riverbed-Mazu combination promises to connect several of these links.

The typical assimilation pains will delay the desired joint benefits of the marriage, as they do with all acquisitions. Still, this is a good fit for both companies. Riverbed needs improvements in the analysis phase and Mazu needs a) an active purpose for its analysis (i.e., what do you do with this information?) and b) a partner to give it better staying power in the market. As we stated, Mazu is a novel innovator, but too small. Current market conditions will prove hostile to smaller vendors. Customers may love the solution, but they need to know the vendor will be there for them in the future. This combination certainly helps.

In summary, the union of Riverbed and Mazu is a good step forward for application performance optimization. It is time for the industry to merge functions to deliver true optimization of applications. Control (Riverbed) is handicapped by a lack of guiding information. Analysis (Mazu) fails to accomplish its full promise without integration to a control platform. Together, they offer a much more compelling solution. Be patient, as this realization will take at least a year to materialize.

By Glenn O’Donnell

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