Innovation of the Week: Viptela promises to clear the fog of the cloud | Crain's San Francisco

Innovation of the Week: Viptela promises to clear the fog of the cloud

Viptela Inc.’s office in San Jose, California. From left to right: Sukruth Srikantha, Ariful Huq, David Klebanov,  Ramesh Prabagaran, Mosaddaq Turabi  and Ali Shaikh. | Photo by Viptela

Many enterprises move their information technology systems to the cloud, only to find themselves in a fog, with their applications bogged down by poor performance.

Often, the performance issue doesn’t reside in the applications themselves, but rather in the enterprises’ networks, which lack the flexibility to accommodate the complex traffic generated by software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications increasingly being accessed on mobile, laptop and internet-of-things devices.

So how do you clear the fog? Viptela Inc. believes that it's latest product, Cloud onRamp, can help. The technology is designed to let organizations seamlessly connect their users and office sites to the cloud, all the while cutting response times and reducing screen-freezes for applications like Microsoft Office 365.

The San Jose, Calif.-based company’s approach to networking is gaining attention in the market. In fact, it’s garnered so much attention that network equipment behemoth Cisco Systems Inc. in May announced plans to buy Viptela for $610 million in cash.

“What we’ve done over the last two or three years is essentially redesign networking to be agile and redefine the model of networking,” said Lloyd Noronha, head of global marketing for Viptela. “In the same way that AWS and VMware redefined computing, we’ve changed networking from a rigid infrastructure to a more agile infrastructure.”

The company is tackling the problem of how to accommodate an increasing dispersion of applications. Whereas applications once resided in a single place, they now can be found in multiple locations, including the data center, the private cloud and the public cloud. This has led to change in network traffic patterns.

Viptela employs a technology called software-defined wide-area network (SD-WAN). Essentially, it's a network of computers that can span across multiple locations, connected by the software installed on each deviceThe SD-WAN space is rapidly gaining new players, including cloud-based SD-WAN service supplier Aryaka, WAN optimization solution vendor FatPipe Networks and of course market-leading network equipment provider Cisco.

Traditionally, when setting up an office, an organization had to contact and work with separate carriers for wired and wireless communications. When overseas offices are established, the organization needed to engage with various providers all over the world, compounding the amount of work required. This made the task of building a private enterprise network very complex.

By placing a software overlay on top of the network, Viptela’s SD-WAN technology simplifies the infrastructure.

“It’s like how consumers got cable in the past; they could only consume it at home in a very rigid manner on their TVs,” Noronha said. “Today, with Netflix, you can consume it anywhere because its built over-the-top and ableto  work on any kind of network infrastructure. We are like the Netflix of IT because we’re taking all the complexities away and putting them into software. Any institution that has multiple sites and locations across the world needs a network that interconnects all those offices. We are able to do that in a very agile manner.”

Industry experts say that the advantages of SD-WAN are allowing the technology to make major inroads in the networking segment.

Market research firm IDC estimates that worldwide SD-WAN revenues will exceed $6 billion in 2020, rising at a compound annual growth rate of higher than 90 percent during the next four years.

Gartner issued a similarly bullish forecast, noting that, “…the disruptions caused by the transition to digital business models are driving adoption of SD-WAN at a pace that is unheard of in wide-area networking.”

Viptela said its solution, including Cloud onRamp, can cut workloads to implement networks from six months to just one week. The company also said it can cut costs, citing the example of Agilent Technologies, which was able to reduce its overall WAN expenses by more than 80 percent by switching from its legacy WAN to the Viptela system.

The onramp solution delivers a much-needed tool for the SD-WAN market, said Brad Casemore, research director for datacenter networks at International Data Corp.

“As enterprises embrace cloud, simple and cost-effective network connectivity to popular SaaS and IaaS (infrastructure as a service) applications and services become increasingly important,” Casemore said. “In that respect, Cloud onRamp is targeting an acute need in the SD-WAN marketplace.”

The company’s capabilities in this area are part of what made it an attractive acquisition target for Cisco.

“Viptela was and is an early leader in SD-WAN, and Cisco feels strongly that this is a market where it needs to be a leading player,” Casemore said. “The acquisition of Viptela broadens and deepens Cisco’s SD-WAN offerings, adding an SD-WAN solution that is application-oriented and relatively easy to deploy and manage. Some Cisco customers felt Cisco’s iWAN was too complex.”

July 11, 2017 - 6:00pm