A10 Networks, one of the companies I visited last week, is a startup mostly dealing with application delivery solutions (usually referred as load balancers), with 300 employee and its headquarters in San Jose (CA).
This company is helmed by its founder, one of the several living legends in Silicon Valley: Lee Chen (founder and CEO of Foundry and Centillion), I’ll soon share a quite long video with him I recorded during the meeting.
Just a couple of facts witnessing the success of this company: ranks fourth fastest growing company in Silicon Valley (46th in USA), and reports revenues since Q1 2010 (and a steady positive turnover growth in the last 18 quarters!!).The company has been adequately funded (39M $) by some venture capitalists and merchant banks (Mitsui), but by now they are not planning any IPO, thanks to the good financial results FIXME the main goal remains growth. Their product seems to be specifically aimed to ISPs, their key customers, but lately many enterprise and education customers came in, and now active customers sum up to one thousand (each with a solid installed base)
The hardware implementation has been very carefully designed, available models range from entry level up to 40 Gb/s throughput capable rigs, none thicker than just 2 rack-unit form factor!! (WOW)
Here the video showing every detail of one of their high-end models. Their products are based upon standard hardware, and can be really powerful (up to 24 10Gb/s ports, 2 Intel Xeon CPUs, 192 GB RAM, 4 SSL engines and 4 FPGAs!).
If you think their hardware is impressive, their software will amaze you. The proprietary operating system (ACOS Advanced Core OS) is 64 bits from ground up (the first one for this kind of appliances, available since 2009), and thanks to the introduction of shared memory (a quite unique feature) the whole 192GB RAM amount can be used (along with the rest of the HW) at the best, allowing the highest and unparalleled levels of efficiency and performances among competitors’ devices. One more amazing fact is that you cannot buy any additional software option: when you buy the hardware, all software features are included!!!!
This may imply the entry level solution is not that cheap, but on the other hand the customer is granted the highest operating freedom whenever needed (that’s right what sysadmins love).
At A10Networks they say their solution is a true innovation in the load balancers field and that it reaches high level of performance even when compared to competitor’s higher level products.
After what I saw, I have no doubts about their statements, but I’m not very well acquainted with networking stuff, and I had no way to check any reply from competitors.
Technically speaking, A10 Networks appliances have a leading role in their customers’ network topologies (straight between servers and router), this may grant a key player position when migrating from IPV4 to IPV6!!!
Everybody knows that IPV4 addresses (the ones made of 4 groups of 8 bits, like 192.168.0.1) went exausted in the beginning of 2010. The only solution is to migrate at the soonest to IPV6 addressing scheme, this will gran t a really unlimited range of addresses, in addition to some way to better cope with the exponential growth of internet connected devices (just think about the explosive market of smartphones and tablets).
A10 Networks appliances not only balance traffic loads, they can also be very helpful to perform the migration to IPV6 (this is really what interested me the most, but, again, I’m not a network specialist).To cut the story short, their solution allows every possible incapsulation or conversion mechanism of IPV4 traffic into IPV6 and also enables dual stack management (there are not many such dual stack devices).If their data are correct, out of the first million highest traffic servers, just 1.5% can manage IPV6 traffic! IPV6 market has today an estimated value about 2 billion dollars, but is growing at a very fast pace, and figures will quickly rise.
A10 Networks is, certainly, one of the companies you should keep an eye upon. The management staff is developing a more and more widespread distribution channel in Europe (up to now they have no partners/subsidiaries in Italy).
IPV6 market is one more thing you should keep informed about: will surely give great satisfactions to whoever will be able to perform these (often complex) migrations!