Japanese virtualization start-up invades the USA

Midokura hits American shores with an overlay strategy for IaaS

Midokura, a Japanese startup focused on network virtualization, this week said it is entering the U.S. market with a distributed software defined network product designed for Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS).

The company’s MidoNet software virtualizes the network for multi-tenant public and private cloud computing, and supports the industry-defined OpenStack platform for cloud computing virtualization, automation and orchestration. MidoNet is a de-centralized software overlay where network intelligence resides in the edge rather than in a centralized controller, which is the common architecture for SDNs.

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Management and configuration of the MidoNet SDN occurs centrally, however. The software does not support the OpenFlow protocol or API, company officials said, citing its immaturity for cloud IaaS applications.

The features of MidoNet include:

* Virtual Layer 2 distributed switching and isolation

* Virtual Layer 3 distributed routing and isolation

*  Layer 4 load balancing and firewall services

* NAT

* Access Control Lists

* Virtual port and device monitoring

* Restful API

* Web-based management control panel

The MidoNet software resides on x86 machines configured as edge gateway nodes, compute hosts and network state database hosts. It allows cloud providers to create virtual provider and tenant routers that provide BGP multi-homing, maintain global NAT and route settings, and deliver firewalling, load balancing, DHCP and NAT services to individual tenant networks.

These x86 MidoNet hosts effectively serve as line cards in a grid router, Midokura says.

MidoNet is integrated with OpenStack Essex, and provides a Quantum plugin as well as Nova network drivers for virtual network functionality in OpenStack clouds. Nova integration provides security groups, Layer 3 routing capabilities, L2/L3 isolation, BGP cloud on-ramp functionality, and “highly-available” edge gateways, Midokura says.

The Japanese startup will have plenty of company. Cisco is starting betas of its Cisco ONE network programmability architecture; HP has 25 OpenFlow switches and a controller to offer for SDNs; VMware plunked down $1.26 billion for network virtualization startup Nicira; Arista believes it is well positioned for cloud SDNs; Juniper is looking to coalesce the industry around an open source controller; IBM recently unveiled an OpenFlow controller; and sundry startups are attacking SDNs from all angles for varied markets and applications.

Midokura was co-founded in January 2010 by CEO Tatsuya Kato and CTO Dan Mihai Dumitriu. The company assembled a technical team from Amazon, DreamHost, Fulcrum Microsystems, Google, NEC and NTT.

The company initially set out to be a cloud service provider and build a public cloud in Japan, but realized there were still networking challenges to overcome in operating a cloud environment. Midokura then spent more than two years building MidoNet.

MidoNet is available now in beta to early access customers, partners and developers. General availability will be announced in the near future, company officials said.

Midokura has raised $5.5 million from Japanese investors, and has 24 employees in offices in San Francisco, Tokyo and Barcelona.

Jim Duffy has been covering technology for over 25 years, 21 at Network World. He also writes The Cisco Connection blog (http://www.networkworld.com/community/blog/1860) and can be reached on Twitter @Jim_Duffy (https://twitter.com/Jim_Duffy).

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