By Charles King, Pund-IT, Inc. June 15, 2016
New IT solutions don’t arise in a vacuum. Instead, most are inspired by real world technology and/or business problems. Some niggling, some serious but problems nonetheless. That’s certainly the case in networking where growing problems have inspired alternatives of often questionable effectiveness.
Network complexity – continuing and growing
Technologies, like cloud, mobility and hosts of new applications, often require users to cross network boundaries. This presents a concerns, that together with the massive growth in security threats are adding substantially to the cry for innovative new network solutions. In other words, doing business the old fashioned way or on old fashioned networks is becoming increasingly unsustainable.
Enterprises and service providers that want to capture the benefits of these new forces cope as best they can by creating overlay networks for functions, like GRE, IPsec, MPLS and VxLAN on top of stateless IP networks, including adding scores of “middleboxes” to handle discrete functions such as security, load balancing and others. All this increases complexity, fragility and cost without solving the underlying problems.
The problem with SDN
Software defined networking (SDN), and related network function virtualization (NFV) and software-defined wide area networks (SD-WAN) aim to fix networking complexity, rigidity and associated issues. But instead of rethinking networking, they simply layer on top of existing networks. As a result, even as the forces of new applications, mobility and cloud drive new networking requirements, SDN simply replaces one form of complexity with another.
Add to that the fact that many of the SDN solutions that networking and virtualization vendors offer are designed to minimally disrupt or substantially expand their own legacy offerings. That’s not especially surprising but it’s also akin to expecting an out-of-shape fellow to design and oversee his own diet and fitness regimen. Better results usually come with the help of experts who understand underlying problems and balancing short term tradeoffs for long term benefits, and are not beholding to any particular status quo.
128 Technology and Secure Vector Routing
Which brings us back to 128 Technology. The company claims its new Secure Vector Routing is the industry’s first true session-based networking solution which enables networks to flexibly support end-to-end control of and visibility into services and applications. Importantly, these sessions can cross network boundaries. That’s considerably different than the packet “hop-by-hop” orientation conventional networking solutions offer.
128 Technology provides Secure Vector Routing with software that can run on x86, including VMs. It doesn’t require specialized hardware or rip and replace since the company’s software routers are compatible with existing networks and protocols. This means that organizations can leverage 128 Technology to solve specific needs and then grow its use over time, without disrupting or altering their existing networks.
128 Technology also aims to change networking economics for customers. Rather than charging by the node as many vendors do, the company charges by utilization across the entire network. This means that for the most part, there is no additional cost (once you hit a rather minimal threshold) for additional locations. This method allows customers to leveraging intelligent routing in more and more places, increasing flexibility while reducing costs.
128 Technology says that its approach offers material benefits that network owners badly need by dramatically reducing complexity and cost. It achieves this in large part by eliminating overlay networks and making middlebox functions native, resulting in networks that are more agile and secure, easier to manage and less costly to build and operate.
That will impact legacy applications, as well as next gen apps and cloud and mobility services for the better. But it should also enable a variety of new use cases for customers, including enterprises, service providers and cloud players.
What is 128 Technology?
These would be remarkable claims for any vendor, let alone a start-up that’s just emerged from stealth. So what is 128 Technology, who are the people behind it and are they legit?
According to background provided by 128 Technology, it is based in Burlington Massachusetts and was founded in July 2014 with the mission; to fix the Internet. The company currently employs over 65 people, including a leadership team with deep experience in its core focus areas.
Two of company’s founders, CEO Andy Ory and COO Patrick MeLampy, previously founded Acme Packet, a maker of session border control technologies used voice, data and unified communications services and applications across IP networks. By February 2013, when the company was acquired by Oracle for $1.7B and change, its solutions were used by more than 1,900 SPs and enterprises globally, including 89 of the world’s top 100 communications companies.
In other words, 128 Technology and its team are ambitious, deeply experienced, well-funded and entirely legit. Ory and MeLampy have a clear understanding of session-based networking and the potential value the company’s Secure Vector Routing solutions offer to enterprises, cloud and SPs. They also have deep insight into the traditional markets and industries they mean to disrupt.
That should pique serious interest in potential customers, including enterprises, SPs and cloud providers, and careful concern among conventional networking vendors.
Analysts who have spent time in the tech industry can share numerous stories of ambitious start-ups that planned to shake the status quo and alter the way things worked. The vast majority of those efforts leave dusty memories behind rather than memorable changes. But a few exceptions come along that possess the smarts, background, connections and wherewithal to make their ambitions real.
128 Technology has the look on one of those exceptional few. Co-founders Andy Ory and Patrick MeLampy know where they’re going and what it will take to get there. They have assembled a solid team of professionals with the required experience and intellectual capital, and possess or can attract the resources needed to pursue their journey to its final destination.
Will 128 Technology achieve its goal of fixing the Internet? That’s impossible to say at this point. But the current state of affairs in enterprise networking, including SDN solutions leaves more to be desired than conventional approaches can readily fulfill. Plus, growing challenges from new applications, use cases and business models suggest that pressures for change will continue to ratchet-up, not settle down.
Whether Secure Vector Routing will affect those changes remains to be seen. But 128 Technology has earned the right and is ready to try to fix those fundamental problems.
© 2016 Pund-IT, Inc. All rights reserved.