Virtual network startup launches platform for cloud data centers

Plumgrid claims network services can be added or removed in seconds, without network disruption or downtime

Network virtualization is quickly becoming the next big disruption in the data center, and technologies like server virtualization and cloud computing are helping to bring the sexy back to the world of networking.

While the software-defined networking (SDN) market is still evolving, it's evident that future networks will be commonly virtualized and their parameters defined in software, much like we do today with desktops and servers. One of the companies looking to capitalize on this emerging market is a startup called Plumgrid.

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Founded in early 2011, Plumgrid came out of stealth mode after securing $10.7 million in a Series A round of funding in August 2012 from U.S. Venture Partners and Hummer Winblad Venture Partners. With a mission of providing network virtualization solutions that enable businesses to manage their physical, virtual, and cloud data centers with greater agility and efficiency, Plumgrid assembled a team of industry veterans from companies such as Cisco Systems, Marvell, Nicira, Sun, Vyatta, and VMware.

Now that same team has released Plumgrid Platform, a solution designed to automate data center operations and increase IT efficiency and productivity while reducing associated costs.

The software solution is targeted at enterprises and cloud service providers building private and public cloud data centers. According to Plumgrid, it enables users to quickly and easily create, copy, and deploy secure multitenant virtual networks.

Unlike some SDN vendors, which rely on supporting OpenFlow, Plumgrid has decided to operate its platform using its own custom, patent-pending technology called IO Visor. IO Visor provides an overlay across the physical networks, turning each virtual network into a set of programmable resources known as Virtual Domains. By going this route, Plumgrid customers won't be forced to purchase and implement new technologies built and designed to use the OpenFlow protocol or make any changes to their existing physical network environments.

The Plumgrid Platform integrates security, operations, and maintenance tools, and it provides network visibility and analytics. It also operates on existing standard-based x86 servers.

The company claims network services can be added or removed in seconds, without causing any network disruption or downtime -- which old-school network administrators may think sound too easy to be true. But it wasn't that long ago when server administrators had similar disbeliefs when it came to the benefits of server virtualization technology, and now server hypervisors have become old hat.

Other components that make up the Plumgrid Platform include:

  • Plumgrid Director, which coordinates and manages all platform components and functions
  • Plumgrid Network Functions, a library of network services to configure the desired topologies in virtual domains -- that is, a router, switch, DHCP, and NAT
  • Plumgrid Console, a graphical user interface to manage, provision, monitor and troubleshoot virtual domains

While Plumgrid provides many of the features necessary to fulfill the promise of a virtual network infrastructure (VNI), the company also offers a robust, open API-based architecture that enables other features to be implemented by third-party service providers. Plumgrid has formed a VNI ecosystem of alliance members that is made up of industry-leading providers of layer 4-7 services, physical infrastructures, and cloud orchestration systems such as A10 Networks, Arista Networks, Broadcom, Cavium, Check Point Software Technologies, Citrix, Cumulus Networks, F5 Networks, IXIA, Mellanox Technologies, Palo Alto Networks, Silver Peak, and Zerto.

The company is offering a Lite and Pro version of the Plumgrid Platform, with prices starting off at $1,650 per month. Both editions are also being made available through a subscription-based pricing with an annual contract.

This article, "Virtual network startup launches platform for cloud data centers," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Follow the latest developments in virtualization and cloud computing at InfoWorld.com.

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