Is it still possible to stand out in the crowded SD-WAN market? Mushroom Networks thinks so, and the privately held company claims its ability to enable SD-WAN tunnels to be automatically created to match applications is a breakthrough technology worthy of attention.
The notion of application-centric software-defined wide area network applications isn't new but what Mushroom Networks Inc. brings to the table -- and is now sharing with service providers and VARs that sign up to its partnership program -- is the ability through what it calls the VNF Design Studio to created virtual network functions that create overlay tunnels on a flexible basis. (See Mushroom Serves Up SD-WAN Tunnel Technology.)
The vendor has been selling its technology to large enterprises such as healthcare systems and multi-location companies for some time now but is moving more deliberately into the service provider space.
The idea is to leverage virtual network functions and service-chaining in a way that lets SD-WANs be more adaptable to customer needs, and do that in a way that service providers can set up at the outset and then allow to run on its own.
"We put networks on autopilot," claims Mushroom Networks CEO and Cofounder Cahit Jay Akin. The company's technology is built on "baked-in algorithms for specific applications" and the ability to use bandwidth bonding to give each type of application the network treatment it needs in terms of bandwidth and latency, he says.
Once established through the VNF Design Studio, the distributed tunnels are able to automatically resolve network issues to support what the specific application needs are. For VoIP traffic, for instance, the VNF would steer traffic around network problems caused by high latency, jitter or packet loss that would disrupt the quality of the voice signal.
Other SD-WAN vendors, such as Velocloud, have application-specific approaches as well, but Mushroom has gone farther in this direction, says Roopa Honnachari, industry director for Business Communication Services & Cloud Computing Services - ICT at Stratecast/Frost & Sullivan.
"The VNF Design Studio is truly unique, because it has a user interface for service providers to design and deploy these solutions," Honnachari says. "These guys have done a lot more work. It's a solution that lets a service provider deploy in their network to offer business solutions or residential solutions depending on different SLAs."
The VNF Design Studio uses sets of code that address basic known functions "almost like Lego blocks" that engineers can drag and drop to assemble the flow that packets will follow, Akin says. Depending on the combinations, a service provider can create "a set of fairly unique solutions" to address specific customer needs .
"So far, they have been selling through their channels -- broadband brokers and master agents, but now they are going to a service provider approach, so service providers can take their solution, host it in their networks and make use of distributed VNF approach to offer managed SD-WAN solutions," Honnachari says.
Akin concedes it may be hard to get attention in a market already flooded with vendor solutions, but believes Mushroom's ten-year track record selling through its channels to enterprises will serve the company well moving directly into the service provider market with what he's convinced is a unique product.
— Carol Wilson, Editor-at-Large, Light Reading