DreamHost Launches NFV Company Akanda

The new company will sell the open-source network virtualization technology that has been used in DreamHost's OpenStack cloud platform.


DreamHost, which has developed an OpenStack-based cloud computing platform, is spinning out the network virtualization technology used in that platform into a new company called Akanda.

The startup announced its debut Nov.3 at the OpenStack Paris Summit 2014.

DreamHost officials have been using the networking platform internally for almost two years in their DreamCompute cloud platform. The open-source network-functions virtualization (NFV) technology developed by DreamHost is designed to deliver Layer 3+ network virtualization in OpenStack implementations atop a VMware NSX L2 overlay, according to Akanda officials.

The technology, which also supports IPv6, currently offers a management and orchestration platform to manage and configure virtualized routers. Later, the platform's capabilities will grow to virtualizing other network functions, such as load balancing and firewalls.

Akanda's platform is the latest move in an effort to leverage open-source technologies for software-defined networking (SDN) and NFV environments. For example, also at the Paris show, Midokura officials announced they are open-sourcing the company's MidoNet network virtualization overlay technology to accelerate adoption of OpenStack for cloud deployments.

"Open source is again proving to be the best way to tackle large, integrated software projects," Akanda CEO Henrik Rosendahl said in a statement. "There is huge demand for open solutions up and down the networking software stack, and Akanda is well-placed to garner new contributors and wider adoption, given its roots as a core production-grade network virtualization platform at DreamHost."

The new company's leadership comes with strong opens-source and virtualization credentials. Rosendahl's resume includes work with VMware, Thinstall and CloudVolumes, a company that aimed to accelerate application delivery in virtualized environments. CloudVolumes was bought by VMware in August. Some of the investors also were involved with Inktank, the company now owned by Red Hat that developed Ceph, the open-source distributed storage system.

The initial seed money—reportedly about $1.5 million—is coming from DreamHost's parent company, New Dream Network. Along with Rosendahl, DreamHost CEO Simon Anderson will be chairman of Akanda's board while Jonathan LaCour, vice president of cloud at DreamHost, will be a director and technical advisor.

"We've been running Akanda in production with thousands of DreamCompute instances for over a year, and we're confident the platform will be incredibly flexible and useful to cloud service providers worldwide as it develops and matures," Anderson said in a statement.

Akanda's network virtualization platform initially is aimed at cloud service providers and enterprises running private clouds based on OpenStack. The new company also will work with other communities focused on opens-source network virtualization, such as the OpenStack Foundation's Neutron effort, the Open Platform for NFV (OPNFV) project (which launched in September) and OpenDaylight, officials said.

The launch of Akanda comes less than a week after DreamHost officials announced that the company's DreamCompute platform is exiting its private beta stage and expanding the number of customers that try out the platform. DreamCompute is based on OpenStack, Ceph and Akanda.

"We believe your cloud infrastructure shouldn't exist in a 'black box,' particularly in the world of open source," Justin Lund, DreamCompute project lead, said in a statement.