Anuta Networks is a software defined networking startup that’s brought their nCloudX platform to market. For a detailed look at nCloudX, watch the webinar and live demo they sponsored with the Packet Pushers, which we published as Show 143. The summary of nCloudX is that it’s a controller that handles automation & orchestration of network infrastructure for multitenant cloud providers. Use-cases beyond cloud providers (say, the enterprise) are easy to imagine.
Now, there are other orchestration and automation solutions in the marketplace. I believe Anuta’s differentiators are (1) ease of use and (2) integration with network infrastructure you already have in place. In other words, an nCloudX deployment doesn’t force you into turning on OpenFlow or pushing services like firewalling and load-balancing out to the virtual edge. Nor does nCloudX require that you invest in some clever overlay to support multitenancy (although you could still do that if you wanted). nCloudX is intended to plug into your existing network and add rich functionality without the risk involved in a complex, manual provisioning process.
Of course, the catch is that nCloudX doesn’t support every bit of gear known to mankind. Anuta has gone after a number of major equipment vendors supplying cloud providers, and there is decent list of supported gear already. When I wrote about Anuta for Network Computing back in February 2013, I mentioned:
Anuta has relationships with several vendors, enabling them to write to its API, including Microsoft’s System Center Virtual Machine Manager. The software also plugs in to Quantum [now Neutron], the network component of OpenStack, for network abstraction services. The company says it can integrate with a variety of devices from Cisco, including the Catalyst 6000 and 3000, the Nexus 5000 and 7000, and the ASR 1000. The controller also works with Citrix’s NetScaler ADC and load balancers from F5 and Riverbed.
While that’s a useful list, Anuta recognizes that more flexibility is a good thing. To that end, they’ve made the nCloudX platform extensible with a package they’ve dubbed Extensible Network Services (EnX). EnX works in two directions: northbound and southbound. In the northbound direction, Anuta cites a use-case of a customer wanting to add particular functionality (say, tracking tenant virtual machines using a unique identifier) to the orchestration system Anuta provides. In the southbound direction, EnX could be used by an Anuta partner to model hardware that nCloudX doesn’t yet support. EnX accomplishes this with a mix of development tools, including a software development kit, RESTful APIs, and packaging tools.
In summary, nCloudX has been opened up a bit, such that customers and partners can get at it and turn the knobs that need turning. Therefore, it’s now easier to customize the platform for tighter integration with your specific environment. I expect that’s going to open more doors to Anuta.