NetElastic, a Santa Clara, California-based startup, is gaining traction with some Tier 1 telecom operators by offering a line of network functions virtualization (NFV) software that is built specifically for carrier networks.
The company’s virtual Broadband Network Gateway (vBNG) is currently be trialed by CenturyLink, and company executives say that there are other global Tier 1 operators also interested in NetElastic’s product line.
Dave Williams, senior vice president of sales at NetElastic, said that CenturyLink is working with the company’s vBNG because they are in the process of upgrading their network as they deploy more fiber to the home.
“Our initial lab trials with NetElastic have been impressive,” said Bill Walker, director of network architecture and innovation at CenturyLink, in a statement.
Unlike most existing NFV players, NetElastic has targeted telecom operators from the beginning. And these aren’t just small telcos. Williams said most of the operators they are talking to have 10 million or more fixed line subscribers.
“Our product will fit the enterprise but that is not our focus,” Williams said. Instead the company believes that it has found a sweet spot with operators because its software allows them to scale control planes and data planes independently so they can handle big traffic loads. “The large Tier 1s in the U.S. and globally need to be able to scale,” he said. “You can have an x86 [server] for the control plane and move the data plane to a white box switch to leverage the switch capacity.”
Besides the vBNG, NetElastic is also offering a virtual router (vRouter) that can replace or augment hardware-based routers, MPLS P routers, and internet peering routers. According to Williams, the company initially focused on developing a high-performance vRouter. From there the team wrapped an orchestration layer around it so the company could orchestrate different features. From that core vRouter technology, NetElastic developed the virtual MPLS provider edge router (vPE), which lets operators extend their MPLS capabilities.
SD-WAN for Carriers
The company didn’t initially intend to enter the competitive software-defined wide area networking (SD-WAN) world but it was an easy transition. Williams said that although there are a large number of SD-WAN products on the market, NetElastic heard from its carrier customers that they wanted another option.
NetElastic’s SD-WAN is designed from a carrier core network perspective, which is different than most SD-WAN offerings because those have been designed for enterprises. Instead NetElastic’s SD-WAN hub fits into the carrier’s MPLS network and can handle off net customers as well as interconnect globally.
Williams said that, for example, a U.S. operator may want to put SD-WAN hubs in its core network around the country to handle different enterprises. Instead of deploying an SD-WAN box at the enterprise headquarters and then smaller boxes at branch offices, carriers can instead handle the connectivity with one server and an overlay network.
The company has about 30 employees but is growing. Williams said that despite the fact that NetElastic is a startup, it’s catching the attention of telecom operators. “Large carriers are not only showing interest but they are seeking out smaller companies to drive the innovation they aren’t seeing from the traditional vendors.”