HostingCon 2008: Vyatta Interview with Tom McCafferty 1 of 2


At HostingCon 2008, I managed to sit down with many movers and shakers of the industry. My interviews are more conversations between professionals and as such can take anywhere from thirty minutes to an hour. Due to this, I have split the interviews into numerous parts. The following is my interview with Vyatta representative Tom McCafferty, Director of Marketing.

David: Let’s start with just give a brief overview of what you do.

McCafferty: Vyatta is open source networking. Router, Firewall and VPN, plus Intrusion Detection, the goal is to continue to add as many other open source projects as we can that make sense for the networking space. Cisco replacement is our goal.To be the open source Cisco replacement. It’s open source software that runs on standard hardware and  we will do everything we can to make sure that it outperforms Cisco.

David: Is it like Cisco in a black box method or can anyone troubleshoot it if they have a major problem?

McCafferty: Pretty much anybody could. It looks and acts very much like Cisco in general. That’s a lot of what we bring to the table is that we’ve taken all these projects and wrapped  them up in a command line that any body whose played with the Cisco box or Juniper for that matter can pick up pretty quickly.

On the flipside, if you are a Linux guy you can do it. You can run Linux commands pretty much the same as you would already. Which plays well in the hosting Industry.

We definitely find more Linux guys then are, say BGP [border gateway protocol] router jocks, so being able to give them some sort of happy medium works out nicely. The only thing that nice in this space is the standard hardware. Right? Most guys have either have a relationship with somebody they are getting the servers from now or there is always a spare they can just put it on and play with.

David: How much have you grown since last year?

McCafferty: Grown company wise grown?

David: Customer wise.

McCafferty: Customers… a ton. Do you want me to give you a count?

[laughter ensues]

McCafferty: I could if you really had to have it.

David: Percentage wise would work.

McCafferty: Percentage wise… 500%.  If you keep in mind, when we did last year was months out of the gate not years a lot of tired kickers then. A good perspective would gone from probably last year about this time a number of downloads was probably 30 to 40 thousand to right now we are over 200 thousand. So, we did hundred thousand downloads in the first two years to hundred thousand the first six months.

David: Yeah, I would say that is pretty good.

McCafferty: It is certainly popular.

David: What do you find to be the biggest roadblock that you face selling your product?

McCafferty: To this particular space you’ve got a lot of guys that we’ve been talking to today were saying, they’re a Cisco Shop. That’s just what they are. I don’t know if that is a matter of if you spend a lot of money and spending a lot of time getting the CCIE who want to keep their job. When you get into larger providers, that’s the big one, we are a Cisco Shop. My response is take the software, you know what play with it see it! That the big hurdle for us. I think as the economy slums along I think people are going to be changing their minds.

David: Yes I can imagine. I was looking at the cost.

McCafferty: Yeah, we feel pretty good about that.

David: Yes. Why should I update my Cisco Network when ….

McCafferty: Doors are going to open that is for sure. You know in a lot of ways it is a radical change for people. They are used to you go out and you  buy a fill in the blank Cisco something you are probably going to learn some commands and that is what you live with forever. When you come to us and you notice it is software based, you can run it on blade server, you can run it off whatever. You watch light bulbs go off but they don’t necessarily know what to do with it right away. We see that sales have really taken off and that our customer cycle is longer then what we originally expected. People kick the tires for a good 6 to 9 months because it is free software, free download and that wasn’t unexpected for us. Coming out of it, we thought this should be fairly easy replacement; we are up against Cisco where upgrading the card will cost you more than our product. Why wouldn’t you?

David: And it’s better as far as efficiency and all that rest too.

McCafferty: The performances are there and then some. Yeah. You get an entire solution and support for a fraction of what the Cisco card costs you in some cases. Especially as you get up to the higher end stuff like the 7200 class stuff.

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