Startup CloudGenix Aims to Bring SDN to WAN

The year-old company gets $9 million in funding to develop software that takes the benefits of SDN to remote offices.

CloudGenix is looking to bring the benefits of software-defined networking to the enterprise WAN, and the startup has $9 million in its pockets to get started.

CloudGenix, which includes veterans from vendors like Cisco Systems, Juniper Networks, Facebook and Palo Alto Networks, came out of stealth mode April 30, announcing its vision of software-defined enterprise wide-area networks (SDEwan) and the backing of venture capital firms Charles River Venture and Maxfield Fund in its Series A fundraising.

Software-defined networking (SDN) and its close kin, network-functions virtualization (NFV), have been the focus of the networking space for much of the past two-plus years. The models promise networks that are more flexible, programmable, scalable and automated, key attributes at a time of such trends as increased mobility, virtualization and cloud computing.

SDN and NFV uncouple the network control plane and applications like load-balancing and firewalls from the underlying hardware and put it into software, creating a more dynamic and adaptable network. Network tasks that traditionally run on complex and expensive networking gear can now run on commodity servers.

Much of the focus of the myriad networking vendors building out their SDN offerings has been within the data center. However, CloudGenix officials, pointing to the growth of hybrid and public clouds, mobile apps, software as a service (SaaS) and other trends, want to bring those same capabilities to the WANs that link remote locations with the main office.

"The traditional data center is being disaggregated by the hybrid application delivery model including public clouds, SaaS and virtualized data centers," CloudGenix founder and CEO Kumar Ramachandran said in a post on the CloudGenix blog introducing the company. "At the same time, remote office business initiatives for Omni-channel, bandwidth-intensive collaboration and support for new devices are growing. In addition, enterprises are looking to deploy policy-compliant hybrid WANs. Incumbent solutions for this new hybrid enterprise are not only extremely complex to deploy, they also need a large number of remote office physical or virtual machines to manage."

CloudGenix is looking to solve those problems with software that runs on hardware from other vendors. The startup's solution applies business and security policies to applications coming from multiple sources, including private, public and hybrid clouds and mobile devices and into the remote offices. These applications also are coming over multiple connections, from private WANs, the Internet and 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) networks.

In addition, CloudGenix's software is designed to centralize the various network functions—such as next-generation firewalls, advanced persistent threat prevention systems and load balancing—and enable the services to be applied to remote office traffic. This ensures business and security policies are used for remote office traffic while the infrastructure in those offices is drastically reduced.

"With [these] capabilities, CloudGenix SDEwan virtualizes enterprise networks and securely brings together users and high-performance cloud and data center applications, while radically reducing remote office infrastructure requirements," Ramachandran wrote.

Cisco Systems officials also have talked about extending the benefits of network virtualization beyond the data center and into the WAN and access networks via its Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) initiative announced in November 2013. Cisco in January introduced an enhanced controller module that brings the benefits of ACI throughout an organization's networks, not just within the data center.

In addition, Cisco's InterCloud software, also unveiled in January, is designed to help businesses move their data and applications between private and public clouds without losing their network and security policies.