Three network engineers who used to work for Orange Armenia saw the potential of SDN and NFV back in 2015, and they created their own company — XCloud Networks — to capitalize on the new technology. The company provides a complete solution to run data center networks.
The founders noted that traditional networking technology required a lot of specialized training and certifications from vendors that make proprietary equipment. But by disaggregating hardware from software the need for a lot of that training could be eliminated.
“If we want to compete with Cisco we don’t need a box,” realized XCloud Networks CEO and Co-Founder Alex Saroyan. “We can put our software in a [generic] box and our software will do the magic.”
For hardware, XCloud networks uses Open Compute Project (OCP)-compatible, commodity hardware. “We have a list of compatible models from nine different vendors,” Saroyan said.
The company wrote its own code for its SDN controller to configure the hardware. Its SDN controller does similar work as OpenFlow or OpenDaylight (ODL). “Our solution is a proprietary and closed solution, but the underlaying technology is open,” said Saroyan. “We take open networking components and marry those components to each other.”
XCloud Networks’ technology uses SDN and NFV to suit the demands of each specific customer’s network. Some tasks are handled by switching silicon and some tasks are handled by x86-based servers. “SDN works with switching, leveraging the capabilities of switching silicon,” Saroyan explained. “But in your network you have different goals. For some goals switching silicon is best. But for other problems an NFV agent inside the server is the best choice.”
The company is only two years old, but it’s garnered a couple of customers, including telecommunication services company Sophia Connect and gaming company Innova.
Innova operates two data centers with 20 racks of equipment holding 800 servers. It had been running Cisco Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) for hardware and software. In addition, it used Juniper SRX routers for firewall, along with F5 load balancers.
But at one point several of Innova’s network engineers left the company. “That was a huge problem,” said Saroyan. “Our pitch was: you don’t need to hire anyone. We will help you to transform. It is so automated just one engineer will be able to handle.”
Innova replaced its existing equipment with XCloud Networks technology within four months.
XCloud Networks is based in Sunnyvale, California, with a remote office in Armenia. It has 14 employees. It considers Apstra to be its main competitor.