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"Newsmakers from Hyderabad"

 

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Sreekanth Ravi & Sudhakar Ravi

Two Hyderabadi brothers builds world class security solutions company in US

 

Hyderabad: The two left Hyderabad when barely eligible to enter school, grew up in the Midwest, went to school there and toiled for nine long years before finding the proverbial pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. In  late 1999 the Ravis took their company, SonicWall, public, and before the New Year was ushered in were worth half a billion dollars each, based on the company’s stock price of about $47. 

SonicWall started out by making a decidedly simple product: ethernet cards for Macintosh computers, which were still hot in the early ’90s. Sudhakar experimented with a variety of other things, too, mostly by himself or with a small team of engineers. 

He made software for virtually every type of Macintosh interface, including SCSI, LocalTalk, Nubus, PDS, PCI, CommSlot and PCI-CommSlot. Although playing inventor was a lot of fun for Sudhakar, it resulted in only moderate success. 

The two brothers found their “eureka moment,” when their office switched to a T1 Internet connection. When they did so, they also started scanning the market for security firewall products because their computers were now always connected to the Net and needed adequate protection. They found none that fit their budget. The cheapest cost $20,000 — way beyond the means of a small office such as theirs. 

Why not, they thought, make an inexpensive firewall that small offices could afford? That is how the brothers came up with the winning product. 

As a variety of high-speed and “always-on” Internet connections proliferated in the US market, the demand for SonicWall’s firewall products rose exponentially. So much so that the Ravis, who were planning an initial public offering in the middle of 2000, started and completed the IPO six months ahead of time. A year before their IPO, SonicWall was valued at a mere $40 million by a venture capital that invested $5 million for a one-eighth stake. About a week after the IPO, Wall Street valued SonicWall at over a billion dollars. 

Sreekanth Ravi, Chairman - Board of Directors 

Sreekanth Ravi, a veteran of Silicon Valley start-ups, has demonstrated his expertise in cultivating businesses. He is Chairman of SonicWALL's Board of Directors, his second Silicon Valley business success. 
After earning his degree in Electrical Engineering, Ravi founded Generation Systems, a manufacturer of high-performance video products. Under his leadership as CEO, the company reached an annual sales rate of $8 million by its second year. Ravi sold Generation Systems to a publicly held computer products company in 1990 and co-founded SonicWALL, formerly known as Sonic Systems, Inc.
SonicWALL began as a manufacturer of Ethernet adapters for Macintosh computers. Under Ravi's leadership, the company introduced over 30 unique technologies and shipped more than 1.5 million products to customers worldwide. As Ravi was developing his IT structure, he observed that the industry had no affordable security devices for the small to midsize enterprise. Seeing a unique opportunity, he guided his company into the emerging security device market and introduced the first SonicWALL security appliances. The new line of security appliances was successfully introduced to the market. In 1999, Ravi and investors took the company public six months earlier than planned. The IPO raised more the $65 million. One week following the IPO, Wall Street valued SonicWALL at over $1 billion. Ravi and his team followed this successful venture by executing a Secondary Public Offering in March 2000, which raised an additional $350 million. 
Ravi holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. 

Sudhakar Ravi, Chief Technical Officer 
Sudhakar Ravi has been involved in research and development of computer technologies for more than 12 years. As a co-founder of SonicWALL, Ravi has designed proprietary ASICs, application software and embedded systems. Prior to SonicWALL, Ravi was involved in semiconductor research at Stanford University. Previously, he spent three years working in Data General's VLSI division in Sunnyvale, CA, designing EDA tools such as circuit level simulation. Ravi holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Eng from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a Master of Science degree in Computer Science from Stanford University. 

SonicWALL Company Overview:
SonicWALL, Inc. is the leading provider of integrated Internet security appliances offering access security, transaction security and security services for the enterprise, e-commerce, SME and education markets. Core technologies include firewall, VPN, SSL, high availability, anti-virus, strong authentication with digital certificates, vulnerability assessment and content filtering. Together, these products and technologies provide the most comprehensive Distributed Security Architecture available. SonicWALL, Inc. is headquartered in Sunnyvale, Calif. SonicWALL trades on the Nasdaq Stock Market under the symbol SNWL. 

Founded in 1991, SonicWALL, Inc. designs, develops and manufactures comprehensive Internet security solutions that provide access security, value-added security services and transaction security products for a broad range of markets, including: SOHO, SME, enterprise, service providers, e-commerce, government, education and healthcare. 

Hailed by industry publications such as InfoWorld, PC Magazine, Network World and InternetWeek for ease-of-use and high performance, SonicWALL Internet security appliances provide organizations with state-of-the-art security platforms that protect networks against Internet security threats. SonicWALL Internet security appliances have a worldwide installed base of more than 220,000 units protecting millions of computer users. By integrating its line of high-performance, solid-state firewalls with value-added security services such as network anti-virus, virtual private networking (VPN), strong authentication using digital certificates, content filtering and other security services, SonicWALL Internet security appliances deliver comprehensive security solutions. 

SonicWALL extended its leadership position in security solutions with the acquisition in Q4, 2000 of Phobos Corporation, a leader in securing transactions with SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) accelerators, which are now part of the SonicWALL family of security solutions. SonicWALL's industry-leading SSL acceleration technology delivers industry-leading price performance for enterprises, data centers, co-location and Web hosting facilities, application service providers (ASPs) and service providers. 

With the Q1, 2001 acquisition of Ignyte Technology, SonicWALL now provides in-depth consulting, design and support for enterprise networking customers, as well as managing their Internet security needs. The Ignyte Technology acquisition doubles SonicWALL's technical support resources with technical experts in Internet security and network infrastructure technologies, as well as a fully developed Network Operations Center and a test lab for customer evaluation of products in a real-world environment. 

SonicWALL continues to develop strategic relationships with partners such as Cisco, 3COM, NetGear, and Network Associates. More than 8,000 resellers worldwide distribute the SonicWALL line of security solutions. 

-Maju Kuriakose
Reachout's News Bureau

 

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