Q&A With Umesh Mahajan, CEO of Avi Networks, Regarding Its Cloud Application Delivery Platform

Cloud Computing Today recently had the opportunity to speak with Umesh Mahajan, CEO of Avi Networks, about the company’s cloud application delivery platform (CADP). Avi Networks uses analytics to help ensure consistent end-user experiences of applications by way of a platform that delivers the application delivery and load balancing technologies used by internet giants such as Facebook and Yahoo to the enterprise. The Avi Networks HYDRA-powered Cloud Application Delivery platform empowers enterprises to optimize load balancing and application delivery within private cloud deployments as well as hybrid cloud infrastructures. Cloud Computing Today engaged Avi Network’s CEO Umesh Mahajan about the cloud application delivery space, the need for hyperscale application delivery platforms within the enterprise and HYDRA’s analytics capabilities.

Cloud Computing Today: How do you envision the cloud application delivery space? What is the key differentiation of Avi Networks within the cloud application delivery space?

Umesh Mahajan (CEO, Avi Networks): Over the past decade, requirements for application delivery have gone through a complete transformation driven by changing modes of application consumption and an evolution of application architectures. In an attempt to keep up, traditional ADC vendors have brought forth incremental improvements in performance, scale, security and availability. I call this device-centric innovation, that is, making existing appliances better, bigger, faster. However, today we are faced with mega trends such as hybrid cloud adoption and a mobile-first access policy in most large enterprises. This has resulted in the emergence of the software-defined data center, which legacy networking technologies are hard-pressed to support.

In this new world, Avi Networks bring three key pieces of innovation. First, we use real-time analytics that tracks and uses a number of telemetric data to dynamically adapt the application delivery services being provided. This enables IT to guarantee application SLAs and accounts for sudden spikes in user traffic. Second, we have developed the industry’s first distributed load-balancing architecture that’s based on SDN principles with a clean separation of control from data plane. This provides a dramatic simplification of network operations via a single centralized controller while the data plane services can span, serve and scale multiple data center and cloud locations. And finally, as opposed to a “pay-upfront” model that exists today with appliance based application delivery solutions, we price our software-only solution based on the actual network services our customers consume.

Cloud Computing Today: Avi Networks attempts to bring the application delivery and load balancing technologies enjoyed by the likes of Facebook and Google to the enterprise. Describe the business need to bring the application delivery capabilities of companies such as Google and Facebook to enterprises that have vastly different workloads and business needs than internet companies that ingest petabytes of data daily.

Umesh Mahajan (CEO, Avi Networks): Companies such as Google, NetFlix and Facebook who deal in hyperscale environments are important because they have redefined the online end-user experience. It amazes me how a Google app can almost predict my next move and suggest ways to auto-complete my text. The other important benchmark hypersale vendors have established is the expectation that their applications will never, ever go down. These are realms that most enterprise apps can dare dream about today.

We build Avi Networks with the goal of enabling the same level of application experience for enterprise apps enjoyed by Web 2.0 and hyperscale users. We’ve also taken inspiration from and have integrated ways to make data centers more efficient through software that can run on any hardware processor and appliance. Of course, the use of real-time analytics to drive smarter even predictive load balancing is another hyperscale innovation that we’re using. A relevant example is the Facebook Autoscale project that the company designed to enable energy- and CPU-efficient load balancing. Finally, these companies have shown the power of automation that drives a “self-service” and agile operating model for the network admins, which also distinguishes Avi from legacy ADC vendors.

Cloud Computing Today: What is most notable about HYDRA’s built-in analytics capabilities?

Umesh Mahajan (CEO, Avi Networks): At the highest level, we’re committed to making the job of the network administrators dead simple so that they can focus on strategic initiatives instead of simply keeping the lights on and troubleshooting application performance issues. It’s very common that the networking teams get the brunt of the blame for poor application performance, irrespective of the real reason for the issue. That’s where Avi comes in by arming network administrators with real-time data and troubleshooting capabilities to shorten what some people refer to as the “mean time to innocence.”

But what’s truly notable about the HYDRA architecture is that it is a true software-defined network model, composed of a centralized controller and a distributed, scalable data plane (called service engines) that can be co-located with the applications within and across the cloud. This tight alignment not only enables service engines to serve as micro load-balancers but also as integrated data collectors that pick up the ambient statistics about every user-to-application transaction. This way they become hundreds of eyes in the data center, ever vigilant. This data is streamlined via reduction filters and compression techniques and then sent to a continuous data store within Avi Controller. The output is very granular and gives real-time insights about the end-to-end timing of application transactions, application health score, client logs, and client insights that can predict and proactively prevent any degradation in application performance – at any scale, any location for every user.

Bio: Umesh Mahajan, Chief Executive Officer & Co-founder of Avi Networks

A seasoned executive and entrepreneur with 25+ years of experience in tech industry, Umesh has helped develop the vision, strategy, and execution plan for several innovative technology products. Before co-founding Avi Networks, Umesh was the Vice President / General Manager for a $2B Data Center switching business at Cisco where he led engineering, product management, marketing and operations for Nexus 7000, MDS switching products, and the NX-OS operating system.

Prior to his work at Cisco, Umesh led the software team at Andiamo in architecting and delivering SAN-OS. Umesh has a Master of Science degree in computer science from Duke, a Bachelor of Science degree from IIT Delhi, and has 29 patents to date.

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