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Startup CPLANE NETWORKS Brings OpenStack To Enterprise Networking

As cloud adoption within the enterprise has continued to grow exponentially, the OpenStack standard has emerged as one of the leading cloud technology platforms. While OpenStack has to date been used for the compute and storage side of IT, startup CPLANE NETWORKS is now bringing OpenStack to networking as well. 

As cloud adoption within the enterprise has continued to grow exponentially, the OpenStack standard has emerged as one of the leading cloud technology platforms. While OpenStack has to date been used for the compute and storage side of IT, startup CPLANE NETWORKS is now bringing OpenStack to networking as well. CPLANE NETWORKS delivers OpenStack-enabled high-performance, scalable virtual networking that lets enterprises quickly and effectively turn their static physical network into a dynamic, responsive service resource.

Joining us today to discuss CPLANE NETWORK's unique technology offering is their CEO Brandon Williams

IT Specialist Thank you for joining us Brandon. Can you provide some brief background on CPLANE NETWORKS, such as what year you were started and the background of the founders?

Brandon CPLANE NETWORKS was reorganized in 2013 from the former CPLANE, Inc. We began development of our software-defined networking (SDN) strategy and solution in 2011, using our production-tested telecom orchestration and provisioning platform as the basis for our OpenStack-enabled network virtualization product, Dynamic Virtual Networks. The original telecom provisioning platform was developed by a team from Cambridge University, AT&T, Cisco and Juniper Networks.

Our current team brings a strong background in networking, security, large scale distributed systems, IT services and financial services from IBM, Transarc, Narus, EDS, Azul Systems and Citi.We’re headquartered in Silicon Valley with development teams in the US and eastern Europe.

IT Specialist What was the inspiration behind the founding of CPLANE NETWORKS – was there a particular pain point you wanted to help people address?

Brandon Applications take too long to deploy – plain and simple. For years application developers and product line owners have lived with the problem of waiting days, weeks and even months for IT services to support application deployments. Virtualized cloud services provide some degree of relief to that problem, but there’s still been a gap – the network. The network has continued to be static in nature, relying heavily on expensive network engineers to configure legacy network topologies that are burdened with numerous limitations.

The original CPLANE telecom orchestration and provisioning platform solved these service delivery problems at scale for carriers. The advent of SDN and the enormous momentum of OpenStack created the perfect environment for us to extend those services to data centers and service providers. We’ve enhanced the base orchestration and provisioning platform to provide high-performance virtualized networks for private and hybrid clouds.

CPLANE NETWORKS’ focus is to move customers from resource intensive, error prone infrastructure configuration to agile IT service construction. We do that by making virtualized networks easy to deploy, use and manage. By closing the network gap we let customers enjoy the same benefits as public clouds but with more control, better security and more technology choices and flexibility.

IT Specialist The CPLANE NETWORKS solution is a combination of OpenStack and SDN/network virtualization. Can you explain a bit more about what that means in practice?

Brandon First and foremost, CPLANE NETWORKS is a SDN company. We deliver virtualized networks that are programmatically defined through our integrated information and topology model, centralized and deterministic state management, and powerful path computation engine. We optimize the network by calculating the most efficient routes and then proactively pushing only the flows required for each network node. This allows us to place all the core network services such as Layer 3 routing, floating IP, NAT, ARP, etc. right at the compute node. We’ve programmed the network to be fast, efficient and reliable.

OpenStack provides the mechanism by which users can request network services to support their infrastructure deployments. Now they can think in terms of compute, storage and networking services instead of configurations and connections. If fact, to the user in a typical OpenStack cloud environment we’re invisible. They just want compute resources and they want a network to support them. And that’s what we do – fast and efficiently. But there’s a lot more that we offer that helps close the gap between DevOps and NetOps. Our DVN console provides comprehensive insight into all aspects of the virtual overlay networks that we create. For example, with a single click NetOps has full visibility to all the flow rules in each node. And they can easily see the flow rules that connect endpoints on the network. Troubleshooting application connectivity problems just got a lot easier!

The combination of our fast and efficient virtual networks that are programmatically optimized for performance and reliability, and the service-centric model of OpenStack lets enterprises and service providers make the move from infrastructure configuration to service construction that I mentioned earlier. We’ve transformed the network into a service. OpenStack makes it easily consumable.

IT Specialist Your website says that “OpenStack Networking is now on equal footing with compute and storage.” How would you describe the traditional networking paradigm data center, and how far down the road are enterprises in moving to SDN?

Brandon Virtualized compute and storage have reached a level of maturity that gives IT managers the confidence to deploy all kinds of workloads, from development/test to mission critical production applications. Traditional networking simply doesn’t provide the flexibility needed to create a fully-leveraged infrastructure service model, and the basic OpenStack Neutron networking uses legacy protocols (VLANs) and simply doesn’t scale. Dynamic Virtual Networks solves those problems. DVN quickly and reliably provisions highly optimized virtual networks to support all types and sizes of OpenStack compute and storage projects. The network is no longer a bunch of separate configuration-intensive work orders. We’ve made it a fully integrated OpenStack service.

We recently posted an entry on our blog titled The eye of the hurricane that talks about how enterprises and service providers have been caught in a swirl of information, and misinformation about SDN, virtual networks, OpenFlow, open source projects, industry “consortiums” and standards efforts.They see the value in SDN, but are looking for calm within the chaos. They simply want to be able to deploy scalable, reliable and cost effective virtualized networks. That’s what we allow them to do. But like any hurricane, there’s the backside of the storm, which also brings more chaos. Once customers start operating private clouds at scale they need to apply controls in the form of policy and quality of service to ensure they operate effectively and efficiently. Without a solid foundation from which to scale their clouds, customers are once again going to be caught in the swirl. We give them that solid foundation, and our production-ready service orchestration platform includes the policy, QoS and provisioning services required to scale not only within the data center, but across data centers. We’re having lots of conversations with customers about the “core-edge-WAN-edge-core” service integration model. Enterprises that have a solid network as a service solution in place will be able to effectively exploit this model. Those who don’t will be stuck with static, non-scalable IT services 

IT Specialist Could you give us a brief overview of your core product, which you call Dynamic Virtual Networks? What are the major features or advantages you would highlight? I happened to notice your site mentions “no more fighting with VLANS” – what does this mean and how does it help IT pros?

Brandon Dynamic Virtual Networks delivers secure virtual overlay networks based on the VXLAN protocol for Layer 2 switching and Layer 3 routing. We don’t tweak any headers or require any unique discovery protocols, so we are fully interoperable with all standard IP routable network topologies. We use the open source Open vSwitch on each compute node. As mentioned earlier, all the critical network services are located right on each compute node, so we’ve eliminated the need for the OpenStack Network Node. Better performance and improved reliability.

DVN tenant isolation is provided by VXLAN, which supports over 16 million unique, secure overlays. As you know VLAN has a limit of 4,096. VLANs are also very configuration intensive and require a lot of upfront planning to avoid overlapping IPs, etc. Since DVN builds a complete centralized topology through auto-registration, we are able to create all routes and flow rules in real time. These rules are then proactively pushed to only the compute nodes that participate in the overlay. Manual network configuration has been eliminated, and when a compute node fails and is restored, we automatically push the rules back to the node. And in the event the connection between the compute node and our controller is broken, the data network can continue to operate. That’s not possible with the “out of the box” standard OpenStack networking services.

With DVN IT managers and professionals can focus on service agility and assurance as opposed to infrastructure configuration. We’ve eliminated time consuming and error prone configuration activities, and we give NetOps complete visibility into the virtual network topology and flow rules. Historically applications have had to adapt to the constraints of the network. With DVN that paradigm has been reversed. The network can now respond to the needs of the application. That’s why our tag line is “Applications, say hello to your new network!

OpenStack networking with Dynamic Virtual Networks

IT Specialist I see you list three solutions– OpenStack Networking; Enterprise and Service Providers – is that correct?

Brandon There’s really only one solution – agile, virtualized networking orchestrated via OpenStack. These are really more use cases that describe how the solution can be deployed.

We’ve made OpenStack much easier to deploy, so customers can start with small implementations such as test/development and scale from there. Enterprises typically have large, diverse application portfolios, so they’re looking for a solution that enables a variety of deployment models that leverage a common infrastructure model. These deployment models will often be defined by classes of service to describe expected performance and security requirements. Service providers need to be able to provide highly leveraged, repeatable services across a large number of customers. Again, these services are characterized by standard deployment, security and performance models. Then there’s specialized application models such as Hadoop, big data analytics, etc., that need high degrees of elasticity.

DVN is designed to support all of those use cases. Whether it’s granularity, repeatability, scale, or elasticity, the DVN network as a service model delivers the performance and reliability needed for private and hybrid clouds.

IT Specialist What role does the enterprise IT professional play in implementing and managing your solution – how easy is it to install and then manage? How easily can it be dropped into an existing environment? Finally, your offering is software only – does that mean you are hardware independent?

Brandon We’ve made DVN very easy to install and operate. We use standard RPM and Packstack packing methods and we offer our own automated installation tools. Since we have no dependencies on any particular networking topology or protocols, DVN seamlessly integrates into any IP routable networking environment. Our agent which resides on each compute node auto-registers with our controller and we proactively push OVS configuration and flow rules, so there’s no manual intervention required. Our SDN controller runs on any x86 compatible platform and can be run in a full HA configuration. All elements of our controller are independently scalable, so you can start with a small single server implementation and expand as your cloud grows.

The DVN console gives a new dimension ofcontrol, visibility and troubleshooting to NetOps. They need better tools to provide networking for the DevOps model. We allows IT professionals to increase their value add in engineering dynamic network services, not troubleshooting static networks.

IT Specialist What has been the response to the CPLANE NETWORKS solution in the enterprise market? Are there any particular reference customers or case studies you’d be able to share?

Brandon Response has been great! Customers really like the ease of use, network performance and reliability we bring. They want to deploy OpenStack for their cloud services, and we’ve made it much easier for them to do so.

We’re seeing several different use cases. First is the requirement to deliver application or departmental networks that are defined by a class of service model. Customers want to prevent the “credit card cloud computing” model we’ve seen with public clouds, where department acquire “shadow” resources with little focus on security, control and resource leverage. OpenStack with DVN provides a great mechanism for providing repeatable services with control over allocation of resources.

Large service providers are looking for massive “scale out” capabilities. They want to provide large “chunks” of resources on demand from a highly leveraged pool of compute, storage and networking resources. They want the “wire once, run many” model that gives them economies of scale with minimum intervention. DVN provides the performance they’re looking for to allocate large pools of virtual networking resources quickly and reliably.

Another area of interest that is quickly starting to emerge is the cross-data center service model. Enterprises and service providers want to span cloud services across multiple centers, but don’t want the hassle and cost of “swivel chair” operations to configure each of the boundaries. The rich virtual and physical orchestration and provisioning capabilities of our platform, combined with powerful service abstraction and workflow allow us to deliver those complex service models.

IT Specialist Turning now to the corporate level, can you tell us how much money CPLANE NETWORKS has raised and who your core investors are?

Brandon Excluding the acquisition of the original assets, CPLANE NETWORKS has been funded entirely by the founders and a small handful of IT executive angel investors. We anticipate raising our first outside institutional round in the Q4 2014 – Q1 2015 timeframe.

IT Specialist Finally, for people who may be interested in testing the CPLANE NETWORKS solution or beginning a dialogue with you, what is the best way for them to start working with you?

Brandon The first step is to schedule a demonstration of DVN so we can show them how easy it is to deploy OpenStack networks! They can also learn more about DVN and OpenStack Networking by visiting our resource center. Our website is www.cplanenetworks.com

IT Specialist Thanks so much for your time today Brandon, and best of luck going forward.

 

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