Packet Design, a company that was founded in 2003 by former Cisco executives, is getting into the software-defined networking (SDN) business. This week it launched its Explorer SDN Path Provisioning application to automate service path computation in service provider’s networks.
Until now, Packet Design has focused on network monitoring. About 80 percent of its business comes from service providers, including AT&T, Verizon, Orange, Telefonica, and Vodafone. Its monitoring services compete with the likes of Netcracker and SevOne.
Matt Sherrod, Packet Design’s VP of product management, said the company has helped engineering teams gain visibility into the network, providing “insight into the routing control plane, millisecond by millisecond.”
‘Just Another Router’
But now, it’s leveraging its relationships with service providers to offer them an SDN and analytics platform. And its angle is that it already knows a lot about their networks. As far as all the routers in the service provider’s network are concerned, Packet Design’s technology is just another router.
“We peer with the routing infrastructure,” said Sherrod. “We advertise ourselves as a router, then all the updates that come from the control plane, come to us. You can imagine how valuable that source of analytics would be with SDN. When we create new paths for SDN we understand traffic trends and how traffic has been growing.”
Steve Harriman, SVP of marketing with Packet Design, emphasized, “We can compute the best path because we have real-time state information as well as history.”
The company’s SDN path provisioning does not compete with SDN controllers from the likes of Juniper or Ciena or with open source controllers such as ONOS and ODL.
“For us, a path computation request comes from them,” said Sherrod. “We don’t compete with the controllers: we sit on top of them.” He cited Cisco’s XTC controller as an example. “Even though it has path computation built in, it does not have access to real time latency information, it has no understanding of historic traffic patterns.”
With the Explorer SDN Path Provisioning, a customer may request a low-latency link from New York to Los Angeles, for example. Another may require a service that excludes routers in a certain city, region or country. Or, an operator may want to offer a diverse path service for customers who need to ensure there is no single point of failure. The application lets operators initiate these services automatically and with the assurance that the best paths are being used for each service.
Packet Design was acquired by the private equity firm Lone Rock in 2013. It’s headquartered in Austin, Texas, and has engineering labs in Pune, India and San Jose, California. It employees about 80 people.