“We were imagining a WiFi mesh network in a residential area where each home had its own Mushroom WiFi access point,” said Cahit Akin, CEO of Mushroom Networks. If one access point was nearing capacity, it would automatically draw bandwidth from the pool of WiFi access networks in the neighborhood.
The business model for that idea didn’t pan out because service providers began offering WiFi with built-in security. But the concept of bonding broadband and managing that single fast pipe from cloud-based software propelled Mushroom Networks toward its current niche as an SD-WAN vendor.
According to Akin, the company now boasts “many thousands of clients for [its] SD-WAN routers capable of broadband bonding.” And the San Diego-based company raised about $4 million in venture financing, but is now profitable and no longer seeking venture funds.
Its flagship product – named Truffle – has multiple WAN ports to effectively combine different connections into a single logical pipe. “With our appliance, you get the aggregate through-up of the individual lines,” says Akin. A software overlay makes decisions about which pipe is the best to use at any given moment.
This is all pretty similar to the SD-WAN technologies of a plethora of vendors. But this week, Mushroom Networks unveiled a virtual network function (VNF) Design Studio that Akin says makes his company stand out from the pack.
The VNF Design Studio enables customers to build their own VNFs, custom-made for their WAN via a curated library of modular, drag-and-drop components. With VNF Design Studio, users can create a custom WAN overlay that matches their specific flow type, application traffic profile, and service level agreements (SLAs).
For example, a VNF can be built to steer non-real-time traffic away from a costly WAN link and apply header compression for real-time traffic only in situations where packet loss or latency crosses a specific threshold during certain times of the day.
“With any other vendor you’re purchasing a system, and you get the functionality that comes with it. You can’t add or customize VNFs,” says Akin.
Although some vendors might argue that VNF Design Studio is just a different name for SD-WAN policies.
Speaking of names, what’s with the name “Mushroom Networks” and products named after specific fungi like “truffle?”
“The name helps a lot in trade shows,” jokes Akin. But it was inspired by the largest organism, a mushroom that lives underground in the state of Oregon.
As an aside, it may be too simplistic to call anything “the largest organism on earth.” Wikipedia ranks the largest organisms based on a variety of criteria. Groves of Quaking Aspen trees are the largest living organisms on earth, measured by mass.