Cloud enablement

Virtela Brings App Acceleration to Cloud

Virtela Technology Services Inc. had its head in the clouds long before cloud services were cool. And as one virtual services provider that survived an industry shakeout, the company is now adding a new cloud architecture, based on 50 local cloud centers, and a new cloud-based service -- application acceleration -- that previously has been based on enterprise-based appliances.

Virtela's Global Enterprise Services Cloud links the 50 local cloud centers with network connections that the company has with more than 500 different carriers globally, to deliver any kind of cloud service cost effectively to almost any location, says Virtela founder and CEO Vab Goel.

"They have had these centers in the past, and they would supply network-based security services and some of their own managed services from the centers," says Michael Suby, director with Stratecast. "These are centers where ISPs are all connected. They are now re-purposing them and enhancing them, and possibly adding more, to use as global distribution points from which to deliver service in a cloud-like fashion."

And while cloud-based services and managed service offerings in areas such as security are hotly competitive areas for service providers today, Goel believes Virtela can offer more by having an open and technology-independent cloud offering that reaches into more places in the globe and isn't dependent on connections with one service provider.

One key initial offering on that infrastructure is a cloud-based applications acceleration service that is the first of its kind, enabling enterprises to offer applications acceleration to any location on its network, including smaller branch offices where applications acceleration appliances will not be cost effective, Goel says.

Other service providers offer applications acceleration as a managed service, but that is based on managing appliances that are deployed at the customer premises, analyst Suby says.

"What is different about Virtela is that they are taking functionality that previously would have been in a WAN optimizer and putting it in the cloud and offering it as a dynamic service," Suby says. "Other companies do offer managed WAN optimization service, but it's based on dedicated customer equipment."

Virtela is offering the applications acceleration service at $5 per day per office, a major savings over the $5,000 to $15,000 capex required to deploy an appliance at each office, Goel says. The service offers five to 25 times faster performance and can be turned up across an enterprise within minutes. It comes with a Service Level Agreement that guarantees a 250 percent refund of service fees if the WAN optimization doesn't work as promised.

"Today, if you have 10 branch offices, it takes you anywhere from 30 days to five months to get box shipped and through customs and installed on premises," Goel says. "In this case, the service can be turned up in a few minutes. We are seeing application acceleration getting installed in only five percent to 15 percent of branch offices, with the others living with inferior performance, because it is too expensive."

Virtela is looking at other networking, security, and mobility solutions that it can provide over its new cloud infrastructure. The company has been around since 2000, before the telecom meltdown, when Goel, also known for his work as general manager of venture capital firm Norwest Venture Partners, founded the company as a provider of managed MPLS-based virtual private networks.

"Virtela is one of the few companies to have successfully created a business in the virtual service provider space," Suby says. "There isn't really a comparable list of companies doing what Virtela is doing."

The hype behind cloud service offerings may actually help Virtela, since it has been essentially delivering network-based managed services that look very much like what is now being called "cloud" services, Suby adds.

"Virtela and others have been providing cloud service before cloud was a service category," he says. "If you go back to their multiple-carrier intelligent routing -- that is a cloud service. A lot of what I see in the cloud is destinations, computing, storage. What they are doing is making cloud services more pervasive."

— Carol Wilson, Chief Editor, Events, Light Reading

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