SD-WAN FEATURED ARTICLE
CloudGenix CEO Brings Swagger to SD-WAN Expo
With two weeks to go before SD-WAN Expo, enthusiasm is reaching fever pitch. The best and the brightest in the space are coming to Fort Lauderdale in February to unpack the SD-WAN reality. CloudGenix needs little in the way of introduction. Its bold approach to offering this transformational technology is taking the market by storm – but you know that.
This editor had the pleasure of catching up with CloudGenix CEO Kumar Ramachadran in advance of SD-WAN Expo, and as always, the industry pioneer was not shy. I'll let the interview speak for itself, find our full interaction below.
Maurice Nagle: Please tell us a bit about the latest news at your company.
Kumar Ramachadran: We had tremendous growth in 2019 – 300% year over year. We are growing rapidly and are on a tear with customers validating our approach. While the SD-WAN market is on fire, we are growing at least 2X (News - Alert)-3X faster than the market. We’ve completed the largest takeouts of “gen-1” SD-WAN products from the likes of Cisco and VMware including a 2000 site retail takeout. In the new Gartner (News - Alert) WAN Edge MQ, CloudGenix has the largest positive move of any vendor and is recognized as a Visionary even while competitors like Cisco have seen steep declines.
We are on a mission to continue innovating and solving customer problems. Our approach to SD-WAN is different from other players. SD-WAN cannot be about delivering some cost savings between MPLS versus broadband. We go beyond and give customers the ability to accurately and automatically apply app policy to ensure security, compliance, and performance across the WAN.
We announced our CloudBlades platform in June 2019 and this is a game changer for enterprises to achieve cloud-delivered branch office infrastructure. With CloudBlades, customers can invoke best-of-breed cloud-based infrastructure services for the branch at the click of a button. Hardware appliances and complex “services routers” from Cisco (News - Alert) are no longer required. Much like datacenters are moving to being cloud-delivered, CloudGenix is changing the model of services delivery for the branch to be cloud-delivered. This model is essential for digitization initiatives, Zero-trust architectures and the level of agility businesses are demanding of IT. Here are two example of how we helped customers with their digital transformations: Aaron’s and Diamond Crystal Brands.
MN: What pains are you taking away for customers?
KR: Customers continue to face big challenges with WAN costs, manageability and the need to deliver new compelling applications to the remote office. The network has been the weak link in IT for far too long. CloudGenix and its partners are changing this by two or more orders of magnitude.
The second big challenge for customers is the number of hardware appliances or routers that are still required to make the branch work. Customers have to either compromise by accepting sub-par products across network, security and collaboration from the same vendor or deal with deploying multiple appliances. CloudGenix is driving a massive shift with its CloudBlades platform and unlocking the ability to deliver best of breed services with zero additional hardware.
The third big challenge for CIOs is building an enterprise-wide data-lake that integrates relevant information from clouds, SaaS (News - Alert), branch, and datacenter. Ensuring data completeness, integrity and accuracy is a foundational step to unlocking the power of data-science. The CloudGenix CloudBlades platform provides capabilities related to applications, networks and security for enterprises investing in creating a powerful data lake. The enterprise data lake and what you can do with it will be the single biggest asset for companies in 2020 and beyond.
MN: What is the greatest opportunity for SD-WAN vendors today?
KR: We plan to continue to disrupt legacy vendors and their approach and take customers to a new reality. We continue to convince large enterprise customers to switch from our rivals, like Cisco, and adopt our approach to SD-WAN. There are three factors that set us apart from other vendors and highlight the opportunities they have missed. The first is our approach to SD-WAN. We did something completely different from every other SD-WAN player. We give customers the ability to accurately and automatically apply application policy to ensure security, compliance, and performance across the WAN. Unlike Cisco, we don’t rely on packet routing to apply application policy. Instead, we developed an application flow, application session-based architecture that can identify and apply application policies at router line rates. Second, we applied artificial intelligence and machine learning early to not only make branch telemetry more actionable but allow for greater degrees of automation. In 2013, we built a system where we collect tremendous amounts of telemetry and application data at the branch, at the data center, and in the cloud, and all of that is stored in a centralized data lake. This investment enterprises and managed service providers as they benefit from fewer disruption and lower operational costs. As I mentioned before, our CloudBlades platform positions us to go after Cisco’s integrated services router (ISR) install base by offering them more flexibility without the need for additional hardware or manpower to manage it. Many vendors rely on additional hardware for these features but this platform utilizes resources collocated in Equinix (News - Alert) facilities to allow customers to spin up additional CloudGenix services anytime they are required.
MN: What is the greatest challenge for SD-WAN vendors today?
KR: Most are dead in the water. Cisco, for example, is falling off the charts – they can’t adapt and are dying. As businesses look to transform their remote offices by taking advantage of digital, cloud and artificial intelligence, the old ways of delivering IT infrastructure simply don’t work anymore. Remote office IT infrastructure has to be reimagined to be cloud-delivered rather than based on complex hardware or software stacks.
MN: What’s your biggest SD-WAN takeaway from 2019?
KR: As large enterprises adopt a multi-cloud strategy, the need to implement SD-WAN has become a top priority for CIOs navigating the complexities of managing their overall cloud infrastructure. Our approach to SD-WAN is a critical component of the cloud-enabled enterprise. Our approach continues to be proven with companies in the healthcare, retail, manufacturing, finance, banking, tech and hospitality industries. The other approaches don’t work.
MN: What’s your most off-the-wall tech prediction for 2020?
KR: This should seem crazy but we made it a reality. 2020 will be the year of breaking free from the tyranny of mediocre products from legacy vendors like Cisco and moving to the cloud-delivered branch using best-of-breed products.
MN: What do you hope to achieve at the event? Why should people come to SD-WAN Expo, ITEXPO and its other collocated #TechSuperShow events to meet with your company?
KR: Come visit us in our booth and get a ticket to our exclusive event, the SD-WAN Winners’ Circle. People can hear first-hand from our customers, the winners of the SD-WAN Implementation Award, John Trainor, CIO at Aaron’s and Jon Meyer, CTO at CAPTRUST. Jon and John will share how they have replaced their Cisco deployments with CloudGenix SD-WAN, reducing WAN costs by 52% and eliminating the need for carrier hardware at branch offices, and how with CloudGenix they receive branch office WAN, security and voice infrastructure from the cloud.
While I’m not typically one to tout FOMO, SD-WAN Expo is quickly becoming the SD-WAN event of the year. CloudGenix and SD-WAN market leadership will be on hand to highlight best practice, illustrating a low impact, performance driven path to digital transformation.
Edited by Maurice Nagle