As the number of clouds, endpoints and applications that businesses are managing continues to grow, it’s creating new challenges for service providers and enterprises.
The risks associated with provisioning devices and services across multiple clouds and sharing data between multiple parties are massive: security, direct costs for equipment and infrastructure, downtime due to productivity losses, personnel costs, etc. These can mount up and lead to increased inefficiencies.
Dispersive Networks is out to simplify all the “cross-connects” and enable service providers to embed security in private networks that can be built on the public Internet. The company claims these networks are more secure and resilient than SD-WANs, VPNs, and MPLS networks, but don’t diminish performance.
“I care about the end-user experience,” said Ed Wood, newly named CEO of Dispersive Networks. He succeeds former CEO Richard Harrison, who is now the company’s chief operating officer.
Wood joined the company after 23 years at Accenture (News - Alert) in the Communications, Media and Technology Group. His experience across the transformation of networks covers everything from PSTN to soft switching, fixed to mobile, 2G to 4G LTE (News - Alert) (and soon 5G).
For the 12 years before joining Dispersive, Wood focused on carrier digital transformation, helping the world’s largest service providers move up the stack to higher value services, including cloud-hosted ones. Driven by hugely popular services like Salesforce.com (News - Alert), enterprises made the move to Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) and began transforming to digital to serve customers with their own web and mobile applications.
“The challenge with everything-as-a-service happens when there’s a poor user experience,” Wood explained. “Expectations are off the chart today, and the productivity of end users is based on their connectivity to applications. With multiple applications, IT and OT teams are charged with connecting to multiple clouds with multiple networks, layering on multiple network and application access security policies. And they must do all this while keeping their budgets in line.”
Wood was sold on Dispersive after working with the company to bring the technology to Accenture’s service provider customers charged with providing connectivity and bandwidth to mission-critical enterprises. “Most urgent is the need to take advantage of the cloud and data-sharing apps through APIs and platforms without adding complexity and cost. For example, in the electric energy market this would involve managing monitoring and securing the grid.
“The lifeblood of virtually any organization is reliable and ultra-secure networked applications and systems. They need industrial-grade communications and computing power while simplifying operations. In this multi-cloud world, we realized they needed something much better than SD-WAN, which has been useful in the transition but ultimately more complex and expensive than promised.”
Wood’s point about improving how organizations connect multiple clouds – AWS, Microsoft Azure, IBM (News - Alert), plus other public, private and hybrid versions – was recently validated by an annual survey.
Earlier this year, RightScale published its annual State of the Cloud Survey. The firm polled nearly 1,000 technology decision-makers at small to large companies across a range of industries. The survey indicated that enterprise cloud spending will grow rapidly during the next year, yet 35 percent of cloud spending is wasted.
“As a result, optimizing cloud costs is the top initiative for cloud users in 2018,” said Michael Crandell, CEO of RightScale. “Multi-cloud continues to be the preferred strategy for enterprises, with companies reporting that they use nearly five different clouds on average. With this multi-cloud approach, Azure is now nipping at AWS’ heels and, in fact, is in a dead heat with AWS among enterprises that are just beginning their cloud adoption.”
Wood says service providers can now offer enterprises “programmable networking” that connects multiple clouds more securely and harmoniously.
“Just as IT, OT or DevOps spin up VMs, they can spin up networks,” explained Wood. “This is not a prediction. It’s our reality today, with one of the world’s largest network service providers using Dispersive’s technology to present a means for their customers to design, deploy, manage and flex their networks. This technology potential to disrupt legacy virtual networking services is substantial. I believe so deeply in this that I made a career move after over two decades working with the greatest companies in the world.”
The RightScale survey also reported that the two top cloud challenges in 2018 were security and spend, in that order. Security is a challenge for 77 percent of respondents, with 29 percent seeing it as a significant challenge.
“There will be no successful networking technology in the future that does not bake security into the management of sessions and events,” Wood said. “This is amplified by the growth in public cloud. It’s a challenge Amazon, Microsoft, VMware, IBM and other companies are fortunately addressing. We give their customers a tool to connect and scale secure connectivity with software.”
The timing of this tool is opportune given the rise of public cloud adoption.
AWS increased cloud adoption from 57 percent in 2017 to 64 percent this year. Over the same period, Azure increased from 34 to 45 percent; Google (News - Alert) Cloud increased from 15 to 18 percent; IBM Cloud increased from eight to 10 percent; VMware Cloud on AWS had a healthy eight percent share; Oracle increased from three to six percent, and Alibaba Cloud surfaced with two percent adoption.
“The other side of cloud is the innovation in applications,” Wood observed. “IoT is a great example. However, cloud-based IoT is very difficult to do without a secure, scalable network that extends to the very edge and into the devices with embedded, encrypted software. While Dispersive’s software works for any application and with any access network protocol, I get most excited about IoT, especially industrial IoT in mission-critical areas. Combining Dispersive’s programmable networking with Azure’s IoT cloud is a natural – same for all cloud providers who see the massive value being created in the world of hyperconnected things and people.”
Beyond IoT, the growth of enterprise cloud computing and communications continues. So do the ways the cloud is being consumed: SaaS, Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS), Security-as-a-Service and, most recently, Unified Communications-as-a-Service (UCaaS) and Communications Platform-as-a-Service (CPaaS). All these need to work for the end user while not compromising the enterprise’s systems or data.
“When you think about what’s happened with VoIP and you add voice-activated assistants, AI for voice – including large contact center and healthcare systems – you see the attack surface growing,” Wood said.
“When service providers bring programmable networking to their own networks and their customers, they can design super-secure, high-performance individual private networks without having to hire a staff of engineers. The service providers are layering on the consumption applications, allowing an authorized individual to log in – user name and password – and start building private networks. These networks can connect clouds in the U.S., Europe and Asia with private routes that are nearly impossible to attack,” Wood continued. “The implications are positively disruptive.”
Dispersive board chairman Steve Shane said Wood’s ability to foresee market implications was one reason he was chosen to be the new CEO. Another was Wood’s having already worked extensively with the company while at Accenture.
“Ed has worked closely with our team over the last few years and demonstrated that he is both a thought leader and visionary,” Shane explained. “We have already benefited from his help articulating our value proposition, defining our market strategy, and launching joint customer initiatives enabled by Dispersive’s programmable networking and brought to market with Accenture. In his new role, Ed will have an opportunity to strengthen this partnership, accelerate our growth in new verticals and enable more customers to benefit from our solutions.”
Wood said he was honored and proud to join “such an accomplished team.”
“Programmable networking has the potential to transform almost every critical industry vertical,” he continued. “Energy, healthcare, financial services, government and a whole range of sectors demand highly secure but elastic and fluid networking at the lowest possible cost. We’re going beyond the standard approach to networking to enable our partners to create unique and differentiated solutions that serve specific vertical industries.”
“It’s an exciting time in networking,” Wood added. “Dispersive has the ability to make innovation and transformation a reality for organizations across the globe.”
Arti Loftus is an experienced Information Technology specialist with a demonstrated history of working in the research, writing, and editing industry with many published articles under her belt.
Edited by Maurice Nagle