Light Reading

Startups Tackle Cloud Management

Craig Matsumoto
News Analysis
Craig Matsumoto

It's service provider IT (SPIT) startup day in the industry, apparently. One fledgling company, Lyatiss Inc., is officially launching its first product Monday, and at least two others are trying to make a splash at Cisco Live London, the Cisco Systems Inc. customer and partner bash. The three companies aren't attacking precisely the same problem, but they all touch on the idea of getting better control over cloud networking -- removing some of the cloud's opaqueness and complexity. Lyatiss
For Lyatiss, the key is to increase visibility. Amazon Web Services LLC has been popular partly because it's simple for users, but the tradeoff is a lack of control over the network Amazon has created to connect one's virtual machines. Lyatiss's CloudWeaver, being moved into beta testing on Monday, is a software platform giving users a graphical look at their Amazon instances -- often their first look. "What our customers say about Amazon is that they have a horrible console," says Pascale Vicat-Blanc, Lyatiss's CEO (who's on the right in the photo below). "Amazon is improving the console, but it's still quite painful."

Beyond just providing a map, CloudWeaver aims to improve application performance through a process Lyatiss calls Application-Defined Networking. ADN can indicate if performance is turning sour -- an increased latency between two virtual machines, for instance. If the health of a flow isn't ideal, then an administrator can decide to add more resources, or move the virtual machines to another rack. Lyatiss hopes to apply the product to multicloud environments eventually. It's starting with just Amazon because so much of the cloud-services market is concentrated there, and because the application programming interfaces (APIs) are available for CloudWeaver to tap. Lyatiss was founded in 2010 as a spinoff of French research institute Inria, which developed cloud orchestration technology to help customers such as CERN. It's got about 30 employees and expects to double that this year. The company has raised US$4 million in Europe, most of it from Idinvest Partners. And while Lyatiss doesn't have formal ties to Deutsche Telekom AG, it's operating from a T-Mobile USA office in Mountain View, Calif. "I worked with them when I was consulting with Stanford on OpenFlow. Deutsche Telekom was very involved with OpenFlow in the beginning," Vicat-Blanc says. Anuta Networks
Anuta Networks, which introduced itself to the press last week and will be exhibiting at Cisco Live London, aims to automate the setup of network services in the cloud. It's relatively easy for a cloud user to pick server and storage resources from a Web portal, but the network connecting them often has to be configured manually. Anuta, based in Milpitas, Calif., claims its nCloudX platform can automate that process. That's not the same as dictating instructions to a switch or router, as OpenFlow would do. Anuta wants to make it easy to group multiple functions together -- creating a set of virtual LANs with a firewall and load balancer attached, for example. A cloud provider could set up such a combination ahead of time in nCloudX, then deploy it on the fly; nCloudX becomes the single point for orchestrating and managing it all. In addition to saving time, the process could help cloud providers use the network more efficiently, says Chandu Guntakala, Anuta's CEO. Today, cloud providers set up handfuls of virtual LANs ahead of time, then grab from that pool whenever someone requires networking. Until that time comes, those parts of the network sit idle. NCloudX talks to network elements using standard interfaces, such as the APIs in OpenStack Quantum. As SDN-enabled gear gets deployed, nCloudX could also talk to an SDN controller rather than talking to individual switches and routers. BMC Software Inc. has some analogous abilities but not as comprehensive a platform, Guntakala says. Anuta's founders previously ran Jahi Networks, a network-management appliance vendor that Cisco acquired in 2004. Jahi's former CEO, Raju Datla, is not among them; he formed a different startup, Cloupia, that Cisco bought in November. (See Cisco to Buy Cloupia for Cloud Management.) Anuta was founded in 2010. The company is funded by angel investors and by its executives, who wouldn't say how much has been put into the company. cPacket
Another startup exhibiting at Cisco Live London is cPacket Networks Inc., the former deep packet inspection (DPI) chip company that's now focused on network monitoring. The company is launching its Stream and Packet Inspection Front-End Environment -- Spifee -- on Monday. It's an adjunct to the company's cVu traffic-monitoring switch. Spifee -- which sources say could also be described as "nifty," "jake" or "copasetic" -- looks for patterns in the network that point to potential problems. cPacket describes it as a continual, real-time scan, an alternative to storing massive amounts of performance data and sifting through them later. That falls in line with cPacket's original goal, which involved hardware-based, real-time inspection of every byte in a traffic flow. No word yet on whether Spifee comes with appropriate period garb. — Craig Matsumoto, Managing Editor, Light Reading
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Craig Matsumoto
Craig Matsumoto,
User Rank: Light Sabre
1/28/2013 | 3:08:01 PM
re: Startups Tackle Cloud Management
Notice how carefully I didn't call anybody an "SDN startup"-á :)
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