A rebooted and relatively unknown startup, CPlane Networks, is building a distributed cloud network for PCCW Global. The network is based on OpenStack, but the networking and orchestration are handled by proprietary technology from CPlane as well as Cisco.
PCCW, a service provider headquartered in Hong Kong, is in the same boat as many service providers that are seeing their big customers move application workloads to Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft Azure.
“It’s a race to capture the customer workload,” says Bruce Ericson, senior vice president of global sales with CPlane. “This is the number one project of PCCW Global. We built this whole infrastructure in about eight weeks. It’s got a huge amount of resources that PCCW is putting into it.”
Before CPlane became involved with the project, PCCW Global was already working with Cisco, which had created a wide area network (WAN) connection between two PCCW data centers, one in Hong Kong and one in Virginia. This WAN is now being expanded to six data centers.
“We’re orchestrating the work going on in these data centers, spinning up the virtual machines,” says Ericson. CPlane’s technology to accomplish this includes a product called the Multi-Site Manager, an orchestrator handling OpenStack cloud provisioning across multiple sites. It then creates a single cloud image by automatically provisioning CPlane’s Overlay Gateway Router at each site to provide secure connectivity across the WAN.
The network is based on a version of OpenStack from Canonical. It’s an open architecture in that all the connections are defined through a standard set of APIs, but the technology from Cisco and CPlane is proprietary.
Ericson says CPlane effectively replaces OpenStack’s entire networking component with its proprietary technology because the partners felt Neutron was “not very good.”
On top of the cloud network, CENX will provide BSS integration so that customers can self-provision their cloud offerings from a Web portal. This was announced in November, before the cloud network was even built.
Via the portal, customers will be able to adjust their compute, storage, and network connectivity configurations to meet dynamic demands across multiple continents. CPlane says the cloud network should be in production by the end of March, and PCCW already has customers lined up.
Who Is CPlane?
Although CPlane integrated its products with Cisco’s WAN, “technically, this could all be our software,” says Ericson.
How can an unknown startup have enough technology to create an end-to-end, global cloud network, including WAN and orchestration?
In a former life, CPlane was in the business of telecom services provisioning. However, in the mid-2000s, the company went under, and its technology was acquired by what is now CPlane Networks.
“There are no ties to the original company other than that very rich software base,” says Robert Keahey, CPlane Networks’ VP of marketing.
“We’re kind of like a startup with this huge base of IT that has been deployed in production at telcos,” says Ericson. “It’s telco carrier-grade infrastructure software that meets scaling that probably won’t be met by the OpenStack community for two to three years.”