In this inaugural episode of Good Morning Work From Home, BPT’s VP of Engineering, Mike Pereira, is on the front lines talking about SD-WAN with the expert himself, Ashwath Nagaraj, Co-Founder and Chief Technology Officer of Aryaka. They discuss SD-WAN benefits and so much more.
Aryaka has thousands of customer locations installed globally. You’ve been around for over a decade providing SD-WAN and WAN optimization, from before most people had even heard the term SD-WAN. What is it that you saw back in 2009 that others just didn’t see?
We started formulating this idea towards the end of 2008 until the middle of 2009. We were trying to see what the major trends were and how they would affect the industry. We looked at enterprises, and they were doing well. They globalized well because of the recession that happened in 2009. But the way good enterprises were working, they built a WAN structure based on MPLS and WAN optimization, and that gave the users good productivity.
There were a couple of major trends that were happening, that didn’t fit very well with. First, the cloud was coming up. People were starting to migrate their own computers to the cloud, moving out to data centers, and moving non-critical stuff into the cloud. New applications were coming in which changed the way people did their business. They were moving to Office 365 and Salesforce, so didn’t need to have the capital infrastructure for that. They could consume this as SaaS. We looked at that and said, okay, that’s the major trend?
When WAN optimization was put on MPLS — the existing networks — to make the user performance great, they were working well, but we needed that same application performance in the new world as these companies transitioned. Fundamentally, the internet and these networks were not designed for that transition.
So that’s what we saw as an opportunity, and we built a network that solved that problem.
With so much competition in the SD-WAN market space, what has Aryaka done recently that’s going to maybe change the business model? What makes Aryaka a better fit for domestic US-only opportunities?
One way of looking at it is the set of challenges in some areas are a little less but in a lot of areas that they’re exactly the same. In the end, one of the most important aspects of an Aryaka service is that it’s a service — a managed service. The CIO goes to sleep, and doesn’t have to worry about getting woken up by a WAN problem somewhere. The WAN is stable, the users are happy. Those are the two things that are absolutely required. That’s the same in the US, that’s the same inside a regional opportunity in Europe. We haven’t focused a lot on that. We’ve made our operations, our scaling and so on a lot more focused on a global operation.
Some of our large customers are 500 or 600 sites, with 200 sites in the US. They’re really regional in the US. That has helped us build a network that addresses the US and European markets locally very well. We’ve added a lot of new technologies in that space, and the ability to go hybrid WAN over the internet cut our costs dramatically in these spaces. We hadn’t been focusing so much on selling into these spaces, but now we have the offerings that you need. The customer is still going to have the same high-quality experience.
One piece we haven’t talked about yet is acquisitions. Two businesses merge and they have to make a lot of decisions about their technology. When you look at Aryaka as a tool for companies that do lots of acquisitions, how do you see that Aryaka enables acquiring a company or merging networks for applications? How do you make that easier for people?
I think you’ve hit on a use case that has been pretty unique to Aryaka. Very, very few people that have made acquisitions requiring quick transitions have the ability to say, “Hey, I’ve acquired this company, and there are two offices – one of theirs, one of ours – in a few kilometers or few miles of each other. How do we converge that? How do we consolidate offices? How do we split up and create new offices?”
The fundamental thing underlying all of that is flexibility. We need to be flexible. You almost need to be able to say, “I’ll drag and drop all the sites from this company into the other company, and we’re done.”
Underneath that, there’s a lot of complexity. We need to hide that complexity from the two companies because a lot of the time the companies that we work with don’t want to be experts in routing. They don’t want to be experts in network topologies and so forth. So we have to be the people who make that whole experience of the merger seamless. That requires expertise. We have that expertise so we’re able to help you make that merger very smooth.
What do you consider to be Aryaka’s superpower? What’s just really unique about you guys that nobody else can really kind of do?
We collect a lot of data, not necessarily from Aryaka customers, but from a lot of IT professionals around the world. One thing it’s told us is that with the trend of SD-WAN appliances, the number one problem used to be cost, but today the main problem is complexity. What Aryaka does is remove the complexity from your life. We are the experts, and it’s all done under the hood.
There are really two models.
The first model is a DIY solution. You want to own your MPLS network, you have an internet connection. You buy this box, and you’ve got 500 different knobs. And every morning you solve a new problem by using the right knob. The question is, do you really want to have problems in the first place which you have to solve every morning? That means you had a problem yesterday and the day before. That’s the fundamental change. We want to make that something that’s not your problem. You really, as a company, do not want to be the expert. You want to create and solve business issues. You want to create business value.
The second model is you work with a service provider. If you’re happy with your service provider, great. What we’ve seen, and what most people tell us, is that they’re not very happy with the service portal. They don’t have the expertise in handling this kind of complexity. Give them an MPLS, a simple circuit that’s stable, and they’re going to do a great job. But when it comes to, “Oh, my SIF’s performance is poor,” you call them and they’re going to call back and say, “But the ping is working.” That’s not the answer you want. We make sure that your application problem gets solved. You don’t have to go and call us and say, “Hey, you know what, tell me who should I call?”, because it’s our job to handle it.
For the DIY model, it comes down to if they want to be the expert. For service providers, it’s about having a good service provider who understands your applications.
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