Betting on Software-Defined Networking

Betting on Software-Defined Networking

While today’s ever-growing computing and storage requirements are met by migrating to the cloud, customers find their network becoming a bottleneck, defeating the very purpose of migrating. Lavelle Networks aims to address this through its software defined networking (SDN) platform that enables a diverse array of WAN features, designed for optimal control and efficiency of the WAN.

Enterprises are rapidly moving to the cloud, but their networking experience post-cloud migration leaves much to be desired. This is ironical, considering that the cloud itself is possible because of the network between the user and the data center. But because the migration is driven by efficiencies for compute and storage, networking becomes an afterthought.

The Enterprise WAN has been a budget and ISP-driven part of the enterprise, and in today’s world of complex application consumption (from MS Exchange, to Oracle to Salesforce.com), it is starved of intelligence, control and agility.

“When an enterprise chooses a public cloud provider, they must rethink their WAN, unless they use point services like an AWS Direct Connect,” explains Shyamal Kumar, co-founder, Bengaluru-based Lavelle Networks. Without using ample Internet at each location, cloud migration is very painful and managing the cloud networks becomes another challenge. “You normally just get alphabet soups – VPC, VNET, Subnetworks,” he points out.

Shyamal, a networking software architect who has built several platforms spanning data center, enterprise, and service provider networks, co-founded Lavelle Networks with Karthik Madhava to provide a software defined networking (SDN) platform that enables a diverse array of WAN features, designed for optimal control and efficiency of the WAN. “We have brought the technology of tomorrow at yesterday’s cost, to enable enterprises in India to leverage WAN connectivity, rather than be bottlenecked by WAN problems,” says he.

The platform facilitates using the cloud to extend the enterprise network footprint beyond the customer’s premise, meaning that the WAN need not be tied to there being an office or a data center (DC) at that location. This flexible cloud-based architecture enables the enterprise to deliver the WAN where the users are, and not the other way around (i.e. have users where the network can be delivered).

Delivering on Promise

The Lavelle team has been in enterprise networking since 1999, with experience in building leading platforms for enterprises and service providers at Juniper Networks, Cisco, Motorola, Lucent and several startups in between. “We could have continued to do this, but we wanted to provide unshackled innovation to our customers, which was the reason SDN was invented in the first place,” says Shyamal.

But as they remain promises merely on paper, and with WAN proving to be a bottleneck, the company first focused on the WAN, and plans to release a full-suite of hardware and software platforms over this year. Lavelle is also working to combine enterprise WiFi and Cloud Security Gateways on its platform, which will also be released in the market shortly.

Five years from now, Lavelle expects to provide network infrastructure on tap, like compute and storage today. Cost effective hardware platforms across WAN, WiFi and Security to enable customers to deliver an end-to-end network pipe from the wireless access point to the application in the cloud, using pay-as-you-grow business models is on the anvil. “No one wants to manage different parts of the network anymore, just like no one wants to manage physical disks, storage interfaces et al separately anymore. They want a service in the cloud,” he observes.


We have brought the technology of tomorrow at yesterday’s cost, to enable enterprises in India to leverage WAN connectivity, rather than be bottlenecked by WAN problems.


Lavelle strives to deliver enterprise networking completely from the cloud, which is nonexistent currently. “Though there is a solution for every sphere of cloud infrastructure, there is none for networking. We want to be that platform. That is the best way to deliver tomorrow’s networking.” 

The Cloud Dynamics

Building an enterprise technology company from an emerging market has its unique challenges, and also this space has been dominated by US incumbents such as Cisco, Viptela and VeloCloud; Lavelle is confident of making an impact through its 100 per cent subscription-based networking product, highly optimized for public cloud performance, end-to-end product vision from WAN to WLAN to Cloud Security. “Once we deliver on our roadmap and market program this year, we will be able to convert an enterprise branch or location to SDN within a week. We are poised to become the industry’s first SDN-as-a-service platform,” says he.

The Drivers

The company raised US $1 million in funding from US-based ShoreTel in a strategic round in 2015 along with a few angel investors. In March this year, the company raised additional half a million USD from Bengaluru-based Ideaspring Capital for marketing and business development.

In its pitch to the investors, it stresses on the gap between demand and supply. Enterprises the world over are hungry for better WAN platforms, as they face painful networking issues during their imminent migration to cloud and SaaS applications. Using the public cloud, an entire enterprise network can be delivered as-a-service. After compute and storage, we feel the next big wave is to move network intelligence and infrastructure into the cloud, and Lavelle Networks is at the cusp of that wave. “We are starting in a grossly underserved market, and speeding away to market and innovation leadership. We are going to replicate this globally and aspire to be a leading network-as-a-service platform. This is more than $50+ billion market globally,” is their stance.

Lavelle plans to raise another US $5 million by the end of this financial year. The company uses three major technology inflection points to deliver its products: SDN, first introduced by Google in its B4 project; public cloud-based WAN; and Intel and ARM based COTS hardware to deliver network performance.

It has a 24-member team, 20 in product and 4 in marketing and sales. “We have more than dozen large enterprise customers in India & Middle East. Our goal this year is to reach more than Rs. 6 crore in annual recurring subscription revenue,” Shyamal adds.


The Name

Shyamal Kumar and Karthik Madhava (Co-founders) were at a Café Coffee Day on Lavelle Road, Bangalore, when they hit upon the idea for their product. When they started looking for a name, they opted for Lavelle Networks, naming it on the road they were in at the time. A few days later, one of their team mates discovered that it meant “best of breed”. The name stuck.

The Indian web domain for the space Lavelle works in (sdwan.in) is not taken yet. “Maybe it is a sign from the heavens that we will be dominant in the home market for this technology,” says Shyamal optimistically.


Snapshot: Lavelle Networks

Founders: Shyamal Kumar, Karthik Madhava

Founded in: 2015

Funded by: Ideaspring, Shoretel, Angel Investors

Focus: Software Defined Networking for Cloud Applications


Concept

Addressing the Network Bottleneck on Cloud

Cloud has become a byword amongst enterprises as it promises compute and storage power at lower costs and a pay-per-use model. But this requires efficient network connectivity to leverage the benefits of cloud. Most WANs prove to be a bottleneck, defeating the purpose of migrating to the cloud. Shyamal Kumar and Karthik Madhava, having more than 15 years of experience developing network solutions, realized how they could address this problem and established Lavelle Networks to deliver software defined networking platforms. This allows the network infrastructure also to be used as per need, thus completing the cloud experience truly. The company has raised funds to the tune of $1.5 million from Shoretel, Naganand Doraswamy-led Ideaspring Capital and a few angel investors, and expects to roll out its SDN products before the end of this year.

Meera Srikant has been working with publishers and publications since 1993, writing and editing articles, features and stories across topics. She also blogs and writes poems, novels and short stories during leisure. Writing for The Smart CEO since 2010, she is also a classical dancer.