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Riverbed Hedges IPO Bet

Riverbed Technology's addition of NetApp to a roster of partnerships that includes HP, McData, and NEC looks to be an ongoing effort to shore up momentum for its IPO -- or something else.

Riverbed's partnership with NetApp, announced today, is just a "reference selling" agreement so far. (See Riverbed Joins NetApp.) But Riverbed hopes it will evolve beyond that.

"The first step is [NetApp] acknowledging us as a viable path for customers," says Keith Zubchevich, VP of business development at Riverbed. "It's a matter of how quickly it takes off. At that point, both companies look at the business aspects."

One of those aspects could be an OEM partnership of the kind Riverbed has with HP, McData, and NEC. (See Riverbed, NEC Sign OEM, Riverbed Licenses Tech to HP, and McData & Riverbed: A Rumored Pair.) It's also likely Riverbed is shoring up its revenue potential in light of plans to go public. (See Riverbed Makes It Official.) And some in the industry have speculated Riverbed could be casting about for an acquirer, just in case its IPO plans don't materialize.

The rate of consolidation in the WAN optimization market suggests that Riverbed, which has held out for its independence so far, may wind up in a vulnerable position if it doesn't at least consider the possibility of a merger. (See Users Rally Round Remote Solutions, Citrix Grabs Orbital Data, Packeteer Picks Tacit, Expand Snaps Up DiskSites, and F5 Hits Accelerator.)

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