The Silicon Review
“We absolutely are ripping out Cisco routers. In the enterprise space, Cisco has a large installed base. We go in and completely eliminate the need for a Cisco hardware router”: Kumar Ramachandran
Increasing amounts of data are being transferred among data centers, cloud environments, branch offices and other remote locations, driven by data analytics, media traffic, storage demand and data backup. This traffic creates the need to optimize the performance of wide area networks (WANs) and the applications that run on them.
As traffic levels steadily rise, network administrators are also seeing an increase in latency-sensitive data transmissions. WAN and application performance optimization solutions, which deliver the scalability and throughput that this traffic demands, have become a necessity.
Optimization uses several techniques to improve performance, including the monitoring and management of bandwidth capacity, network latency, protocols and overall network traffic. Techniques such as deduplication, compression, Secure Sockets Layer and other protocol optimization are used to enhance performance.
Meanwhile, software-defined WAN (SD-WAN) technology is emerging as a networking approach that can deliver multiple performance and cost benefits, including end-to-end network visibility and feedback to improve transmission efficiencies on the fly.
In light of the above mentioned, we are thrilled to present CloudGenix – a new breed of networking company that is redefining and simplifying how companies connect people anywhere in the enterprise with applications across public, private and hybrid clouds. CloudGenix SD-WAN virtualizes enterprise networks and securely brings together users and high-performance cloud and data center applications, while radically reducing remote office infrastructure requirements. To build this new solution, the company has assembled a team that has previously delivered industry-leading products in networking, SDN, cloud, security, and web-scale applications.
CloudGenix serves a broad spectrum of large and medium-sized enterprises across multiple verticals including finance, banking, retail, manufacturing, service, healthcare, development, and service provider spaces.
The company was incorporated in 2013 and is headquartered in Santa Clara, California.
Interview Excerpt: Kumar Ramachandran, Co-founder/CEO
Rewind:Getting off the Ground
CloudGenix was founded by a group of seasoned innovators with extensive careers building some of the most widely used networking products ever made.
It took us about six to nine months to purely refine the product we were building. Compared to a lot of start-ups focused on the enterprise market, this is an extremely small amount of time. We were only able to do this because of our familiarity with the market, customer needs, and where the technology was heading. What this allowed us to do really is that space of six months was narrow down exactly what needed to be built, how it needed to be built, which market segments to target, and then build and deliver. Our customers are ecstatic about how we’ve been able to help them gain agility, get control of their network, and enable new use cases and experiences for their employees, partners, and customers.
We were seeing three major trends – first, new application delivery models, with the cloud and mobile driving new traffic patterns in the remote offices; second, a transition to hybrid network models that are agnostic to the underlying transports (MPLS/Internet/LTE); and, third, a demand for a security model that elastically delivers data-center class of security to the edge of the network.
As an IT person myself, I had experienced first-hand how the legacy hardware model of fragmented control, routing protocols, and packet-based networking deny enterprise IT the agility needed to adapt to these changing business needs.
At CloudGenix, we transform the way the Wide Area Network (WAN) is built by using software, eliminating the need for fragmented routing protocols, and delivering an end-to-end application-defined fabric for the network.
SD-WAN Solutions vs. Traditional MPLS Implementations
Many carriers have had to compete on margin points because connectivity (MPLS or Internet) is a commodity. With CloudGenix, service providers have the opportunity to offer an application fabric that offers high performance, security, compliance and resiliency to their customers with top-down application-centric policy controls rather than esoteric command line interfaces and complicated routing protocols. This new model enables them to provide differentiated offerings, rather than commoditized services. In fact, the service providers are following (and in some cases leading) the enterprise customer demand for such solutions.
The CloudGenix Platform:A Much Needed Solution
Customers expect interoperability at three levels: ability to interoperate with existing infrastructure without rip-replace requirements; gradually introduce SD-WAN to parts of their organization while others are running legacy hardware networks; and, the ability to integrate easily with their operational systems and processes. We fulfill each one of these requirements and, provide open interfaces from our controller for programmability and data analytics. Our intent is to enable customers to embrace innovation in a safe and agile manner while receiving maximum benefit through the deployment lifecycle.
Technology: In Full Swing
We absolutely are ripping out Cisco routers. In the enterprise space, Cisco has a large installed base. We go in and completely eliminate the need for a Cisco hardware router. Cisco is a layer-3 router. What we are providing is a layer-3 through layer-7 application routing device. It establishes what a customer needs when they are trying to establish a cloud-ready infrastructure. We are ripping and replacing the Cisco router. We tell customers that we can co-exist with a Cisco router. They let the co-existence happen for a week, see our advantages, and then say, ‘Great. We’ll have you. Let’s take down that Cisco router.’
CloudGenix vs. Cisco:Taking the Bull by the Horns
In the enterprise itself, we see it as a two-horse race. There is Cisco with all of their products including Viptela, then there is us. Right now, our win rates are very high. We have a 90-plus percent win rate against Cisco. They haven’t done any favors for themselves. In fairness though, they do have a tough problem. They have an entire suite of legacy products they have to somehow sustain while trying to integrate Viptela and make sense of where it fits, which products they keep, and what they remove.
Cisco has about six different products for SD-WAN: iWAN with the ISR [router]; Viptela, Meraki, Glue [Networks partnership], they have some virtual editions of their product, then APIC-EM (Application Policy Infrastructure Controller Enterprise Module) – a ton of different product sets. Most customers we meet are concerned about the fact that Cisco can’t keep this many products alive for the same market use case, and that Cisco is going to end-of-life many of these. Customers are concerned about which one of these products they are buying and how they interoperate with one another.
Growth: Sky’s the Limit
We have expected and have been seeing exceptional growth rates. The reason is that, because we focus on and have added several Fortune customers, there is just massive expansion with every one of those customers. When we book a customer, often times they’ll be doing the deployment in a rolling thunder manner – you deploy 100 sites, then another 100, then another 100. Let’s say we book a Fortune 100 customer. They deploy 200 sites, and, as soon as the 200 sites are done, they come and place orders for another 200 sites. So if you see our model itself, all the customers we booked last year to get to 300 percent growth are continuing to place massive orders with us. In addition to that, we are landing new customers at a record pace. Our growth rates are going to continue to be very strong this year.
The Brain Behind The Operation: A Brief Background
Kumar Ramachandran: Kumar Ramachandran co-founded CloudGenix five years ago and currently serves as its Chief Executive Officer. Prior to founding CloudGenix Kumar held leadership roles in Product Management and Marketing for the multi-billion dollar branch routing and WAN optimization businesses at Cisco. Prior to Cisco, he managed applications and infrastructure for large companies such as Citibank and Providian Financial. Mr Ramachandran holds an MBA from UC Berkeley Haas School of Business and a Master’s in Computer Science from the University of Bombay.