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DriveNets Boasts Cloud-Native Router Breakthrough

Ray Le Maistre
4/17/2019

Cloud-native router startup DriveNets has followed up its February funding announcement by claiming its virtualized routing software, dubbed Network Cloud, can support 400G-per-port routing and be scaled up to a whopping 768 Tbit/s, making it (possibly) the highest capacity router on offer.

The "possibly" is a safety net for DriveNets : The company's CEO, Ido Susan, says he's 99.999% certain that others can't match it. That, he says, is because incumbent router vendors are still pitching chassis-based hardware platforms with baked-in software that can only scale so far, whereas DriveNets is proposing a disaggregated architecture comprising its cloud-native, software-based system that runs on high-spec white box servers (running Broadcom's Jericho2 software-on-chip switch-router merchant silicon). "We have taken the approach of the webscales [in their data centers] and applied it to [carrier] routing and switching -- the proof point will be enabling operators to benefit from disaggregation," Susan tells Light Reading.

The CEO laid out his approach to the market -- including a disruptive business model based on a flat license fee for the Network Cloud software, no matter how many servers it's running on -- in February, when the company announced $110 million in funding.

Now DriveNets is upping the ante with these throughput and capacity claims and, just as importantly, an engagement with an unidentified Tier 1 operator that Susan is confident will become a paying customer.

The operator, which is testing the Network Cloud setup in its lab, "has provided design validation [for the system] and now it's in the process of testing and challenging the software, testing the recovery mode, running clusters and so on… As with any early drop there have been bugs, so there is a still a lot of work to be done in the coming weeks, but soon we will be able to display the full functionality," says the CEO.

The end goal, says Susan, is to show that a virtualized, disaggregated routing platform can support the service creation and delivery needs, as well as the capacity requirements, of next-generation network operators, offering the flexibility that will be needed to support all manner of cloud and 5G services. "This is all about building a cluster of shared resources for multi-service operations," stresses Susan.

Why this matters
DriveNets has the hallmarks of a market disruptor -- experienced staff, technology already in the field, financial backing -- that is targeting the sweet spot of a number of major industry players, most notably Cisco, Juniper, Nokia and Huawei.

It's not only keeping up the pressure on those established vendors with announcements such as today's, but it's also reminding the world's network operators, which are currently re-evaluating their network architectures and considering how they can design more flexible and "cloud-friendly" networks, that there's an alternative for the routing needs.

And DriveNets is leveraging its experience and the industry contacts of its senior executives to sow a seed in the minds of those network operators -- it had multiple meetings with major network operators during MWC19 in Barcelona and has a story that will fit into their network playbook, with its promises of much lower comparative total cost of deployment attractive to cost-conscious CFOs.

Whether those network operators will simply use the DriveNets proposition to put further demands on their existing suppliers, or opt to try something new, will become clearer in 2020, when Network Cloud should have some prime deployment examples to point towards. In the meantime, Susan and his team will be causing some anxious moments in the service provider routing teams of the router market leaders.

For more on this, see:

— Ray Le Maistre, Editor-in-Chief, Light Reading

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