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Saisei brings visibility and control to software defined networks

Many companies are still reluctant to push SDN into production. Solutions like this could make it easier.

A couple of months ago I wrote about a start-up called Saisei that launched a product in a market it called "Network Performance Enforcement." The company's NPE solution brings together WAN optimization, policy, control and analytics.

This week at HP's Discover Event in Barcelona, Saisei made its solution available through the HP SDN App Store. The Saisei FlowCommand software brings real-time visibility and control over millions of flows on HP-based SDN networks. This should enable HP customers to have better insight into an SDN deployment.

The improved insight and control into a software defined network should be a real boon to network managers looking to make the move to an SDN. From the research I’ve done, I believe a lack of visibility is one of the top inhibitors to organizations being more aggressive with moving SDNs into production environments. Legacy management, monitoring, and optimization tools were not designed for SDNs, creating a big blind spot for network managers.

Saisei’s FlowCommand sees every one of the thousands of micro-flows that crosses the network and can publish the information to HP's SDN controller. The flow feedback into the controller means the HP's SDN solution can control all network traffic, instead of just a subset of it. In effect, Saisei's solution gives HP's SDN an extra level of intelligence to free up bandwidth, prevent security breaches, and improve user experience.

Gaining control over the network should be a top priority for network managers, particularly those considering a software defined network. The increase in recreational traffic from personal devices – as well as new traffic patterns from cloud, peer-to-peer, and mobile computing – can wreak havoc on networks today. Deploying an SDN without having the necessary visibility and control tools is kind of like playing Russian roulette with the network. You know a problem is going to occur, you're just not sure when or how to find it.

Saisei effectively changes the way IP networks pass traffic and eliminates data queuing, a killer for real-time traffic. The net result is a network that can run at more than 95% capacity, according to Saisei. FlowCommand then looks at every SDN flow and can continually apply security and network policies to each flow.

For businesses, the combination of SDN control with flow-level visibility and the ability to run the solution network-wide should put a big dent in end user complaints. ZK Research has shown that currently 73% of application problems are actually discovered by the user and not the IT department (disclosure: I am an employee of ZK Research). Most of these should go away. Also, on average, workers are 14% less productive because of slow app performance. Businesses spend billions every year trying to make workers more productive, but if they could just make the stuff they already use work better, that would net out possibly a double-digit improvement in productivity.

I firmly believe that you can’t manage what you can’t see, and it’s getting harder and harder to see what’s happening on the network. By Saisei’s numbers, FlowCommand can monitor 5 million concurrent data flows on a 10 Gig link up to 20 times per second while applying up to 40 policies to each flow. For most companies, this should be more than enough to improve visibility of what’s happening in the software defined and physical networks.

I’ve heard some people joke that SDN actually stands for "still done nothing" because of the lack of traction SDN has had to date. However, I believe tools like Saisei can go a long way into giving customer the confidence to move forward with an SDN without the blind spots that a deployment typically brings.

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