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Pluribus Networks: Innovating software-defined data center networking solutions to support the modern business and its applications

thesiliconreview-kumar-srikantan-ceo-pluribus-networks-17The introduction of advanced and pervasive technology has brought a drastic change in how organizations innovate their products and services, and achieve competitive advantage. The technological evolutions demand organizations to change or update their infrastructure in order to keep pace with the advancements and effectively manage, store and process their data. So a combination of a number of application servers, web servers, database servers, etc., had to be always kept-up and running to process the server requests utilizing a significant amount of resources. Moreover, networks and compute spaces had become costlier and more complex.

Sunay Tripathi, Robert Drost, and C.K. Ken Yang, three former Stanford classmates, realized this and founded Pluribus Networks to address the issues of today’s businesses and meet their needs. Headquartered in Palo Alto, California, the company was set up with Series A funding from Yahoo! founder, Jerry Yang in April 2010. Pluribus Networks has pioneered a distributed network operating system (OS) software technology, Netvisor, as well as defined the industry’s first server-switch hardware platform. This powerful and innovative architectural approach unites open networking software, merchant silicon, and robust system design to bring commodity server virtualization benefits directly into the network. The team developed a solution that embraced the macro-trend of shifting towards the cloud and built one of the first next-generation software-defined networks. Pluribus empowers customers to achieve the full promise of open, programmable infrastructures that deliver scalable, application-aware cloud services in a unified virtual and physical network environment, while smoothly integrating with customers’ existing data center technologies.

Striving to innovate according to the market needs

Pluribus Networks offers a unique and highly differentiated approach to software-defined networking. Its competition ranges from traditional incumbent networking vendors, who provide interlocked hardware and software products, to software-defined networking vendors. In the case of traditional incumbents, Pluribus both compliments and competes with these vendors. Pluribus is complimentary because its technology can be deployed into existing network environments where this competitive network hardware is already deployed. But, Pluribus Networks can also be competitive with these traditional vendors when customers are looking for their next generation products. 

Pluribus Networks is a software company, and its software can be licensed on a subscription-based or perpetual acquisition model. It has a diverse distribution strategy that combines OEM, channel and direct sales as its routes to market. After the first few years of developing its technology, Pluribus began its commercial journey through strategic OEM relationships. After five years of gaining deployment traction, learning from these deployments and being hardened by large-scale enterprise and service provider deployments, it has begun to build its direct and channel sales model and has more than 30 resellers on board providing coverage in North America; Europe, Middle East, and Africa (EMEA); and the Asia Pacific and Japan regions. Its partnership with Dell EMC has grown over the past 16 months, and it has been winning significant multi-data center deployments globally. 

Simplifying and accelerating software -defined data center

Organizations are looking for ways to scale-out their data center network to meet the increasing demands of migrating the business to a digital world. The digital enterprise, fueled by new applications, hyper-growth of the Cloud, and adoption of hybrid IT are all driving dramatic change. In order to fully realize the potential of technology, organizations are looking to modernize their network and leverage the Cloud for increased agility, speed and consistency. This implies new approaches and capabilities are required. Ideally, all aspects of a data center would be virtualized and available as a service.

Pluribus Network’s Adaptive Cloud Fabric brings the simplicity, adaptability, and elasticity of the Cloud to the enterprise data center. This enables a Cloud-like scale and operating model into the data center to create a dynamic private Cloud. “The true value of the Software-Defined Data Center lies in the evolution of infrastructure to a Cloud-like ‘as a Service’ delivery model. While automation and programmability are important components, service integration and network virtualization are the key to effective next-generation transformations, and are dramatically increasing value of the network”, said Kumar Srikantan, president and chief executive officer of Pluribus Networks. “Our focus is to empower enterprise and service provider organizations to speed their migration to a simpler, more resilient and modern architecture, while reducing complexity, improving operational efficiency and increasing the utilization of valuable IT resources”, he added.

Addressing the customer issues and solving them

There are many technical issues customers face. They want their networks to function and deliver applications and services to users in a seamless and reliable way. But, as new technologies were introduced for improving performance and security, more complexity got added to the network. In addition, throughout these “evolutions” traditional networking hardware and software were tightly coupled, meaning that one had to buy both hardware and software from the same vendor. This drove costs higher, and further increased complexity. As Software-Defined technologies were introduced, they were fraught with a different kind of complexity. But despite the many benefits that software-defined approaches provided, the underlying complexity inhibited adoption and deployments. So the key issues that are being focused on can be summarized as complexity, high cost, inflexibility, hardware/software together, lack of automation to deploy and manage the network and vendor lock-in that drives higher costs and limits choice. “We do what it takes, every time, to show our customers they are our top priority”, says CEO Kumar Srikantan. 

Tools to eliminate the drawbacks of the traditional network services

The key factors that differentiate the company from its competitors are the Netvisor network virtualization software and the Insight Analytics software. Through its unique and highly differentiated innovation, Pluribus Networks delivers the industry’s only virtualized network operating system software, the only distributed software-defined network fabric that does not require a controller-and a fabric that embeds advanced visibility telemetry and intelligence to monitor both network and application performance. 

“The Netvisor software fundamentally changes how networks are built”, said Srikantan. Netvisor software runs on open networking switch hardware. It is a virtualized Network Operating System (NOS) that provides a best-in-class layer 2 and layer 3 networking foundation, distributed fabric intelligence and virtualizes the switch hardware, similar to how VMware® virtualizes a bare metal server. Switch virtualization decouples network resources from the underlying hardware to create multiple network containers on a single device that can be dynamically allocated. The Netvisor software is optimized to run on open networking hardware, eliminating hardware lock-in and providing customers’ the choice of hardware to build their networks. Due to the virtualization, a single switch can instantiate multiple network containers, each with their own virtualized router, to support granular east/west and north/south network segmentation, strict multi-tenant services and the integration of virtualized network services and functions. The software has a distributed cluster fabric that forms the basis for its Adaptive Cloud Fabric. The Adaptive Cloud Fabric is unique and enables organizations to build a holistic distributed network architecture that brings the benefits of cloud-scale, elasticity and adaptability to the modern data center and speeds up their transition to the Software-Defined Data Center.

Its Insight Analytics software is a performance management platform that leverages the embedded telemetry of the Netvisor OS, and other data sources, to enable true pervasive visibility across the network. Since it is part of the network, it monitors the speed of the network to track all traffic flows, connections, and transactions to reveal network and application performance that speeds troubleshooting and enhances operations and security intelligence. Pluribus Networks has focused on addressing the challenges that its customers face with both legacy and next generation technologies. Its Adaptive Cloud Fabric simplifies SDN and enables organizations to bridge the operational models of DevOps and NetOps to overcome the growing skill gaps that exist in IT. It reduces architectural complexities and enables new services to be rolled-out quickly, so that changes can be implemented faster and against configuration errors. It operates without a controller, and delivers a more dynamic, resilient and elastic network that adapts to change and a wide-range of deployment scenarios to streamline operations, improve efficiency and lower costs.

Improving end-to-end customer experience

thesiliconreview-50-bect-companies-to-watch-cover-17Pluribus Networks has more than 100 customer deployments in 20 countries across enterprise, service provider and cloud hosting companies. Pluribus Networks’ approach has changed the way SDN operates, and has radically simplified the architecture, and operational model. To support its technology, it delivers world-class service and support. Pluribus Networks provides extensive 24x7 global support and professional services to its customers. Support is included with subscription licenses and is available to all customers who purchase perpetual licenses.

Deployments are typically seen in organizations where the network is a critical business enabler and companies that are considered IT innovators. Key industry verticals include financial services, healthcare, pharmaceutical, transportation, aerospace, retail utilities, energy, education, manufacturing, high technology, media and entertainment, public sector and service provider companies. Pluribus has a large foundation of its deployments through its OEM partners. Tibco leverages the company’s Netvisor software for its enterprise messaging systems that have been deployed in some of the world’s most demanding mission critical enterprise networks. Ericsson also leverages the Pluribus Networks Netvisor software as the networking foundation for its Hyperscale Datacenter System 8000 cloud solution. The HDS 8000 platform is deployed in a large number of service provider packet core networks. Named customers include Telefonica, Swisscom, Tesltra and SK Telecom. 

Future endeavors with focus on constant growth

Pluribus is focused on re-imagining the Software-Defined Data Center. Its innovation is centered on taking the network to the next level by integrating intelligence and enabling the network to become more self-operating and adaptive. Its goal is to continue to refine and leverage the unique network virtualization to integrate network functions into the fabric. This is called Network Function Virtualization (NFV). NFV will enable customers to take advantage of advanced services in a simpler way, and leverage their network to deliver more value to their organizations. More importantly, it will allow the network to become even more adaptive and help to consolidate the complexity reducing both acquisition and operational costs.

Pluribus has integrated scalable network telemetry and intelligence into its Adaptive Cloud Fabric to track network and end-point service state. This enables their customers to understand how the users and services are consuming the infrastructure, and how the infrastructure is supporting the users and services. Future enhancements will advance the depth of state-based intelligence across the fabric to dynamically compare actual versus desired state and automate corrective actions such as security or traffic policy changes, reroute traffic, and link to other systems to implement dynamic changes to the infrastructure, redefining real-time service assurance. Gartner calls this “Intent-Based networking” and this is a key emerging area in networking, and its Netvisor OS is at the forefront of this revolution.

Knowing the leader who made Pluribus Networks happen, CEO Kumar Srikantan:

Kumar Srikantan is the President and Chief Executive Officer of Pluribus Networks. He is a network visionary with significant experience in the networking industry. Mr. Srikantan joined Pluribus Networks in November, 2013 as President and Chief Executive officer. He has more than 25 years of diverse leadership and operational experience in the networking and technology industries. His experience spans development, marketing, and engineering across computing, silicon and communication industries. Prior to joining Pluribus Networks, Mr. Srikantan spent 14 years at Cisco Systems where he served in various senior management roles including general manager and vice president of Cisco’s Enterprise Backbone Business Unit, as well as vice president of marketing for the Cloud Switching and Services Technology Group.

"We strive to make things better time and again. We seek to challenge the rules of the game."

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