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SDN Drives Codero's Flexible Hybrid Clouds

Mitch Wagner

Hosting provider Codero has deployed SDN capabilities, including some of its own "secret sauce," to help it offer flexible hybrid clouds to its customers, allowing them to log in to a portal and configure bare-metal servers, cloud resources and virtual networks on demand.

"As a hosting vendor, automation is one of the highest priorities for us. We have to be able to scale very quickly and we want to be able to do it in a cost-effective and error-free manner," says Emil Sayegh, CEO and President of Codero, which is based in Austin, Texas.

Codero has 4,000 customers of all sizes, from small to enterprise, serving Web 2.0, software-as-a-service, e-commerce, gaming, and web development. The company is privately held, backed by Catalyst Investors in New York.

Codero sees demand for scalability and high performance from new applications such as big data and the Internet of Things (IoT), says Sayegh. Also, different jobs have different technology needs. "An e-commerce customer might put their customer database on bare metal servers to ensure they're PCI-compliant and have the best performance. They'd couple that with web-heads in the public cloud that scale up and down and are programmable using APIs," Sayegh says.

Codero has tens of thousands of servers running in data centers in Chicago, Phoenix and Virginia, along with a new data center in Dallas that opened in April. In Dallas, Codero built an SDN network using Brocade Communications Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: BRCD) VDx switches to achieve greater flexiblity. (See Brocade Debuts OpenDaylight SDN Controller, Brocade: There's Something About the Cloud and Brocade Weaves Software-Based Networking Strategy .)

The SDN infrastructure enables customers to configure private networks in a multi-tenant environment. "We have tons of customers routing through the switches, and each of them needs to have a private network that doesn't collide with the other customers," Sayegh says.

Virtualization allows Codero to easily move physical switches without interrupting services, Sayegh says.

Of course, just using Brocade switches doesn't make a software-defined architecture. Codero uses its own, internally developed software to weave the switches into an on-demand cloud fabric, Sayegh says. Codero declined to provide details about the software, which Sayegh describes as a "secret sauce."

In addition to Brocade switches, Codero uses networking hardware and software from Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) and Arista Networks Inc. "We call it ABC," Sayegh says.

After building the new data center in Dallas based on the SDN platform, Codero retrofitted its Phoenix data center, and is working on doing the same in its Chicago and Ashburn, Va., locations.

Codero has deals with several carriers to connect data centers and enterprise customers. These include XO Communications Inc. , Zayo Group Inc. (NYSE: ZAYO), Level 3 Communications Inc. (NYSE: LVLT), Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC) and NTT Communications Corp. (NYSE: NTT)

Sayegh warns other cloud providers planning a transition to SDN to avoid fixating on low cost. "If you value uptime, you have to value features more than price," he says. Buying quality technology is worth the investment, he adds.

Also, providers shouldn't be overly concerned if staff aren't trained on a platform they're considering: Good staff can be retrained. "A good engineer is a good engineer. A good programmer is a good programmer," Sayegh says.

Want to know more about SDN? Visit Light Reading's SDN architectures content channel.

Also, service providers should look for future-proof technology. "Make sure you have a view into your future needs, not just backward-looking into your needs of today and yesterday," Sayegh says.

What next? Codero plans to expand into Europe in the first quarter of 2015 and Asia-Pacific in the second half of next year. Its customers have customers in those regions and need to get closer to them, and Codero is following that need. In Europe, Codero is considering either Dublin or Amsterdam for a data center location, with both offering great connectivity. Codero will most likely open a data center in Hong Kong for its Asia-Pacific business.

It's also working to bridge its network directly into its customers' facilities, whether that's a data center or colocated servers. Codero will drop-ship a device to the customer's facilities that will give customers the flexibility to move workloads between Codero's platform and the customer's own servers. That project is due for Q1 2015.

— Mitch Wagner, Circle me on Google+ Follow me on TwitterVisit my LinkedIn profileFollow me on Facebook, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading. Got a tip about SDN or NFV? Send it to wagner@lightreading.com.

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