The network virtualization market has a new player to watch: the Japanese software-defined networking (SDN) startup Midokura. The company officially announced its U.S. launch and introduced its MidoNet software while at the OpenStack developer conference last week in San Diego. At the same time, the company announced integration into the OpenStack cloud orchestration framework.
Founded in 2010 by CEO Tatsuya Kato and CTO Dan Mihai, Midokura has already raised $5.5 million from Japanese investors. With that funding the company has been able to hire top talent from companies such as Amazon, DreamHost, Fulcrum Microsystems, Google, NEC, and NTT, and it's added research credentials from Cornell, EPFL, and Stanford. In all, Midokura now has 24 employees across offices in San Francisco, Tokyo, and Barcelona.
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The SDN market is quickly emerging as one of the key architectural elements required for the next-generation public cloud and private virtual data center. SDN abstracts away the underlying hardware from the network, making it easier to program and more simple to manage. And let's be honest: It's arguably the most exciting thing to happen to the network market in the last 10 years. Research firm IDC has forecasted that the broader SDN market will see rapid growth, reaching $168 million in 2013 and growing to $2 billion by 2016.
As the Japanese startup goes after its piece of the SDN pie, it will have to contend with traditional network vendors like Cisco and Juniper, as well as large IT vendors such as Dell, HP, and IBM. Beyond the traditional players, Midokura will also have to differentiate itself from other nimble startups like Big Switch, Vyatta, and Embrane. But don't forget Nicira, which VMware paid a handsome $1.26 billion to acquire back in July.
"We originally set out to build a public cloud in Japan, but quickly realized there were still networking challenges to overcome," explained Dan Mihai Dumitriu, co-founder and CTO of Midokura. "Operating an efficient cloud required a whole new way of thinking around how network services should be built."
According to Midokura, the limitations of the hardware-dependent network are preventing enterprises from realizing the full potential of the cloud and vastly limiting the return on investment. In order to get the most out of a cloud environment, the company believes you must untether your network, something it claims MidoNet can make happen.
MidoNet virtualizes the network stack for popular cloud platforms such as OpenStack. Its approach is said to not only add automation that significantly reduces the human cost (OPEX) of managing the network, but also impacts the overall economics of cloud computing by simplifying network requirements.
Some of MidoNet's key features include virtual Layer 2 distributed switching, virtual Layer 2 isolation, virtual Layer 3 distributed routing, Layer 4 distributed load balancing and firewall services, stateful and stateless NAT, access control lists, BGP routing, monitoring of networking services and live migration. The product also offers a restful API and a Web-based management console.