If you read my stuff regularly, you’ll know I’m a big fan of 80s music. Back in 1983, Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson did a duet called "Say Say Say" with great lyrics, like:
"Say, Say, Say, what you want,
But don’t play games with the hybrid WAN.
Take, take, take the time you need,
But make the apps run as best they can"
The theme of the song is that running the WAN is hard and creating a smooth running WAN where users aren’t griping about performance is even harder. The tasks becomes even more difficult as businesses transition to the hybrid WAN. This challenge was actually one of the reasons I wrote this post earlier this month.
This week, a startup called Saisei unveiled what it calls the first product in a market known as Network Performance Enforcement (NPE). Saisei is talking a big game and claims that it can double network capacity without any degradation to application performance or user experience. Saisei’s NPE solution can be thought of as a superset of WAN optimization, quality of service, network policy control, and analytics. The company is able to accomplish this by taking advantage of its patented flow-control technology that changes the way IP networks operate. By eliminating the need for queuing and scheduling of packets, Saisei is able to double the amount of data that can flow through a network link while ensuring no user application session will ever drop or stall.
IP networks are typically under 50% utilized because the network is a highly chaotic system that operates primarily as a “best effort” system. This was sufficient, although not optimal, with legacy networks as network managers really only cared about the private network. Today, cloud, mobility and the Internet of Things has given rise to the concept of the hybrid WAN, and the chaotic nature of IP could further drive down utilization. Saisei’s software suite brings order to chaos and makes the network a highly predictable system that can achieve utilization rates over 95%. This means no VoIP call dropping, no choppy video sessions, and no freezing up applications.
The Saisei suite is made up of three components.
- FlowCommand provides control, security, visibility and net neutrality enforcement to the network. It’s the tool that monitors and controls data flows between servers, virtual networks or physical networks. FlowCommand includes REST APIs plus graphical interface and CLI interfaces, which are ideal for integration into orchestration systems. The net neutrality enforcement is an interesting feature for service providers. This feature addresses the issue of a few users that take a disproportionate amount of traffic. FlowCommand will classify all flows and give the exact same amount of bandwidth to each flow. The performance numbers Saisei touts are impressive to say the least. The software can concurrently monitor 5 million flows on a 10-Gig link up to 20 times per second. Each flow can be controlled based on the policies defined from 40 metrics and can adjust the flows up to 20 times per second. It’s this kind of granular, fast control that enables Saisei to hit utilization rates in the high 90s.
- FlowEnforcer is similar to FlowCommand but designed for small- to mid-sized businesses. It has the same control, visibility, and security features of FlowCommand but has stripped out features that SMBs won’t use, such as net neutrality enforcement.
- FlowVision provides real-time visibility and analytics. It’s designed for network managers that want to see all the activity on the network but don’t need the control elements. FlowVision can sit in line like FlowCommand or run off a mirror port. I think of FlowVision as a reporting tool, but it can be upgraded to FlowEnforcer or FlowCommand.
All of the Saisei products can operate as a virtual image on a hypervisor or can be purchased as an x86-based appliance. The solution is single-sided so it can be deployed virtually anywhere: data center, branch office, or WAN edge.
As I said in my previously mentioned blog, the WAN is evolving and the infrastructure required to optimize it must also evolve. Saisei’s NPE offering appears to be a credible solution for the hybrid WAN.