Those are the words of CEO Rohini Kasturi, a former Juniper executive who started Avni Networks a couple of years ago. He isn’t revealing the specifics about Avni’s technology yet, but he does say the startup is wrapping up a Series A funding round that might be announced soon.
Avni is seed-funded in the low millions, one Silicon Valley source believes. The source also says Avni has a paying Tier-1 customer, although the startup has yet to reach general availability with its software.
“Some things fell in place — especially the team following me,” Kasturi says. Shortly after founding Avni, senior-level engineers started knocking at his door, from Juniper and other industry giants as well, he says. “Everybody on [Highway] 237, pretty much,” he says, referring to the road north of San Jose that runs near the headquarters of Cisco, Juniper, and Brocade, as well as the Silicon Valley home of Ericsson.
Avni has found some board-level help as well. Among the investors and advisers listed on the company’s web site are Bill Coleman of the venture firm Alsop Louie Partners and Dan Scheinman, the former Cisco executive who’s on the board of Arista.
A New Look for Layer 4-7
Avni aims to “fix” the hybrid cloud model by letting an enterprise manage an application across multiple cloud presences. In most cases today, the task is done with homemade code.
Even if an enterprise is using only Amazon Web Services (AWS), there’s a home-brewed aspect: AWS provides tools, but it’s left to the user to integrate everything, Kasturi says.
Part of what sets Avni apart from other Layer 4-7 players is its founding date: Kasturi started the company knowing that cloud computing would pervade the enterprise. So instead of focusing on a typical Layer 4-7 task such as virtualizing load balancers, Avni started from the premise that enterprises were using multiple clouds; from there, it worked on how to scale applications. It happens to be using a load balancer to do the job, although that’s not the company’s core technology. (My guess is that Avni is using an open source load balancer.)
Avni could be viewed as a higher-layer analogue to Intercloud, Cisco’s architecture for knitting clouds together. Intercloud is about connectivity, creating one cluster out of elements spread out among different clouds. Avni’s approach is more related to the Layer 4-7 world, looking at the requirements of the application.
Alternatively, Avni could be described as a wireline version of Meraki. That startup, acquired by Cisco at the end of 2012, offered centralized management and mesh-network capabilities for Wi-Fi environments. Cisco recently included Meraki’s technology in an offering called Cloud Managed IT, which combines the management of cloud and on-premises applications.