As the volume of enterprise data continues its rapid rise, businesses are grappling with a host of new management challenges, including how to handle the flow of that information between data centers over a wide-area network (WAN).
Those issues can be expected to assume an even greater urgency over the coming year, as server virtualization is further propelled by Intel's planned introduction of the Romley platform, making 10 Gig ports the de facto standard in the server market.
"This is a huge step up for server connectivity performance and will be a boon for the virtualization market," said Raj Kanaya, CEO and co-founder of Infineta, a WAN optimization firm that helps companies handle heavy data loads. "When all servers are equipped with 10 Gig ports, the amount of traffic that will be generated -- and will subsequently traverse the WAN -- will also grow by an order of magnitude."
For many businesses, the WAN is the primary thoroughfare used to achieve backup or replication in an off-site data center. Infineta cites industry estimates that the aggregate volume of enterprise data is surging by about 50 percent annually, a number Kanaya expects will only spike further with more sophisticated servers.
"The movement of these vast amounts of data is choking enterprise WANs. This not only slows down traffic but also results in non-critical workflows getting prioritized over critical ones," he said. "Businesses get into the vicious cycle of buying more and more bandwidth to solve these problems. However, bandwidth is expensive, especially over long distances."
Formally launched in May 2008, Infineta begins with the premise that the current trends of exploding data, server virtualization and a general rethinking of conventional replication strategies -- a triad the company calls "big traffic" -- are pushing WANs to their breaking point.
Infineta's answer is the Data Mobility Switch (DMS), its flagship WAN optimization product that it boasts can achieve bandwidth capacity gains as much as tenfold immediately upon deployment. Infineta also touts the accelerated IP traffic that the DMS provides, as well as its ability to prioritize critical applications while performing transfers between data centers.
An integral part of the product is the Velocity Dedupe Engine, a data-reduction technology based on a massively parallel algorithm that compares data in motion byte by byte. Infineta claims its DMS can achieve a reduction in data relating to data center applications of between 80 percent and 90 percent.
The idea for Infineta was born in 2007, when K.V.S. Ramarao, now Infineta's CTO, observed that most WAN companies were focusing their efforts on transmissions from the data center to the branch office while neglecting the inter-data center traffic. Convinced that the continued growth of data would soon make WAN optimization for traffic between data centers an imperative, Ramarao set about developing the dedupe algorithm. Early testing in 2008 showed promise, and Ramarao lured Kanaya away from Citrix, where he was serving as vice president of business development, to form the new company.
In its sales pitch, Infineta promises that customers can expect to enjoy both CapEx and OpEx savings with its scalable WAN optimization appliance, eliminating the need for additional WAN equipment upgrades as well as incremental bandwidth upgrades.
The company tailors its WAN optimization solutions, accompanied by a support service billed annually, to medium and large enterprises and service providers. Customers can purchase the appliances or rent the equipment from Infineta, an option that sometimes appeals to companies undertaking a particularly data-intensive project or consolidating their data centers.
Infineta sells both direct and through the channel, where it is aggressively working to build out its network of partners. Kanaya said the company has been primarily using the channel as a lead-generation mechanism, and its own sales staff has been doing most of the "heavy lifting." However, Infineta is presently funneling a significant portion of its budget toward efforts to boost its visibility, including a major expansion of its channel program.
"The deals we lose are the ones we don't even know about. Being a small company, awareness and recognition are critical for us," Kanaya said.
"For a startup to be successful, it needs as many sales people knocking on as many doors as possible. The ideal way to scale is to partner with specialized resellers who are very close to their customers and are therefore aware of upcoming compelling events that might cause their customers to evaluate WAN optimization solutions," Kanaya added.
Kenneth Corbin is a freelance writer based in Washington, D.C. He has written on politics, technology and other subjects for more than four years, most recently as the Washington correspondent for InternetNews.com, covering Congress, the White House, the FCC and other regulatory affairs. He can be found on LinkedIn here