Glue Networks used the Cisco Live conference in Las Vegas this week to announce what CEO Jeff Gray describes as the “first multi-vendor software defined network orchestration platform focused on end-to-end automation, all the way from the data center across the WAN as well as the LAN.”
While Software Defined Networking promised to simplify the management of network devices by centralizing control, Gray argues the SDN tools are still vendor specific: “Juniper has their controller, Cisco has theirs, Brocade, you name it. It’s hard enough to automate and build orchestration for a single vendor, but now customers have these different vendor islands and they need a consistent layer of automation across them to plug into their existing workflow systems, monitoring tools, ITSM workflows, IP addressing systems, etc. That’s the gap in the network world we’re solving.”
Gray says the latest version of the company’s Gluware platform supports 13 initial “vendor solution packages,” and the company announced a new community that, combined with the dynamic network development kit it announced a few months ago, should enable customers to gradually pull other network devices into a common orchestration environment.
The 13 solution packages include, the company reports, “A10 load balancers (ACOS), Cisco routers (IOS, IOS-XE), Cisco switches (IOS, IOS-XE), Fortinet firewalls (FortiOS), Palo Alto firewalls (PANOS) and Riverbed WAN accelerators (RiOS).” Later this summer support will be added for “Arista switches (EOS), Cisco [SDN] (NXOS, ACI), F5 load balancers (TMOS), and Juniper routers (JunOS).”
Glue Networks hopes to become the lingua franca of network orchestration, a common platform to replace piecemeal approaches to automation. Enterprises today either manually configure equipment through CLI, use templates to load new instructions into devices which are then rebooted (what Gray calls a “load and pray” approach), or are trying to build their own orchestration using Python scripts or another tool.
The value proposition of Gluware, Gray says, is to allow customers to build data models that will enable them to automate what they have in place. “Once you have the network model, then you can reduce network lifecycle cost pretty dramatically through centralized control using policies versus needing to send engineers out all the time.”
A use case that shows the promise, he says, is setting quality of service levels. “All these different switches have a special recipe or formula for quality of service. Now you don’t have to worry about coding QoS for every single device and every single ASIC on every single blade. You just say -- This is my quality of service model. Because the rest of the Cisco or Juniper or whatever platforms are already modeled, Gluware is able to do the translation and all of a sudden it just works.”
Of course, delivering orchestration for the diverse world of network equipment is easier said than done, and that’s where the new community comes in. “With our Gluware community and the rapid development environment, enterprises can go and build their own. Anything with a two-way interface can be modeled with our platform and then brought into production and orchestrated,” Gray says.
The community will house sample code used to integrate different vendor equipment, and customers that join and purchase the enterprise version will be able to access all of the libraries that Glue has created and test drive Gluware Control, which is the orchestration engine.
Gray says Glue, which started out in WAN networking, has thousands of WAN nodes in deployment and that revenue is growing year over year, but would not share actual sales figures.