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Software-defined network services startup Avi Networks emerges

Avi Networks emerges from stealth mode with software-defined network services and integrated application performance analytics.

Avi Networks emerged from stealth mode with a software-defined network services architecture that offers agile, programmable application delivery controller software with integrated analytics.

The startup, which has $33 million in venture capital funding from Greylock Partners, Lightspeed Venture Partners and Menlo Ventures, offers a Cloud Application Delivery Platform (CADP), based on a software architecture it calls HYDRA (Hyperscale Distributed Resources Architecture), said Dhritiman Dasgupta, Avi's vice president of marketing.

CADP consists of two elements. A controller serves as a central policy repository that provisions, orchestrates and manages Layer 4-7 services. The controller has an analytics engine that can provide real-time insight into application performance. The second element is CADP's data plane software -- what Avi calls service engines -- which reside on virtual machines.

The controller is typically deployed on-premises in an enterprise's data center, while the service engines can be distributed across multiple data centers or public cloud environments. The service engines provide Layer 4-7 "micro-services," including load balancing, SSL termination and application acceleration.

"Avi is targeting customers that are further along on the hybrid cloud journey, providing software for load balancing and application delivery in a world defined by cloud and mobile endpoints," said Brad Casemore, research director at IDC. "Established vendors, including F5 and Citrix, are cognizant of the aforementioned market changes, and they are continuing to modify and deliver their products and strategies to align with and respond to the requirements of hybrid cloud and mobility. The major vendors have the benefit of incumbency, which obviously counts for a lot. But Avi is betting on the leading players to be tardy in adapting their product architectures (such as enhanced cloud and mobile analytics) and business models (moving to virtual ADCs and service-based consumption models)."

Avi's combination of software-defined network services and an application performance analytics engine offers enterprises an automated Layer 4-7 networking stack that can react to changes in application quality and user experience, something that only hyper-scale data center operators have been able to achieve, Dasgupta said.

"Facebook recently told the world how they've used real-time analytics about users and applications to load balance their applications in real time," he said. "Enterprise customers don't have the luxury of having thousands of engineers like Facebook. So that's where we're bringing to them."

Avi's service engines collect user, application, server and network data, and then forward it to the central controller, which can do real-time analysis of application performance. The analytics engine can also establish baselines of application behaviors and alert administrators of anomalies. It can also automatically spin up new ADC services if needed.

The CADP controller offers a single point of control and management for Layer 4-7 networking in the data center. It also serves as a single point of integration, both northbound to platforms like OpenStack and VMware vSphere and southbound to an SDN controller. Avi is already integrated with Cisco's Application Centric Infrastructure and Nuage Networks' Virtualized Services Platform. CADP is also designed to work with leading DevOps management tools, including Puppet, Chef and CFEngine.

Avi's technology overlaps slightly with another Layer 4-7 SDN vendor, Embrane. However, Embrane lacks the integrated analytics and its focus is more on Layer 4-7 services lifecycle management.

"Embrane is focusing on network and security-service orchestration, which includes load balancing" IDC's Casemore said. "But I see Avi as more focused on the confluence of ADC/load balancing and cloud and mobile analytics for hybrid cloud. Avi is more focused in my opinion, while Embrane has broader ambitions."

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