Context aware networks to rule corporate infrastructure: Sanjai Gangadharan, A10 Networks

The sprawl of devices in company’s infrastructure imposes a prerequisite for competent ADN solutions, says Sanjai Gangadharan at A10 Networks.

The global market for Application Delivery Controllers (ADC) is expected to touch $3 billion by end of 2020. This space offers a considerable play for technology OEMs like A10 Networks. A provider of application networking, load balancing and DDoS protection solutions, A10 Networks is a decade old company with 5000 customers across the globe and across varied industry verticals.

Sanjai Gangadharan, Regional Director, SAARC, A10 Networks spoke on the big opportunities in the ADC  space and their value proposition for the networking infrastructure of Indian companies.

A10 Networks has a wide portfolio that extends from application controllers in networks to security appliances. What are the real sweet spots across IT infrastructure of enterprises?

Our products built on the highly advanced hardware platform ACOS developed by our engineering team is our real strength. This platform runs both applications delivery and security services. And the IT team can orchestrate resources as and when they want them for their network. A10 Networks’ platform with high speed, high throughput and low latency has application delivery solutions that sit closely to App layer and the web layer. It’s the crucial piece of real estate within the datacenter as it ensures availability, performance and security of web based applications to perform when one is out of network.

Every TCP IP is a protocol and as the applications move out of datacentre a delay occurs. Latency is the mother of all problems in modern networks. Application slowing down by 1 millisecond can cause TCP/IP delay of almost five to ten times depending on the distance between datacentres. Our solutions optimise the performance of web and provides a LAN feel for the networks. And then A10 Networks’ WAF ensures the network security.

There is a sprawl of devices in today’s modern network infrastructure for companies. Every device is another layer and another hop. Load balancers help identify the mobile devices, kindles, tabs - which are not on LAN –from low latency or shared and consolidates the workloads accordingly. A10 is at a great sweet spot as our platform optimises computing from any device as it monitors context aware network and its performance. That’s why telcos trust A10 Networks for high throughputs across a number of concurrent users. It’s the same platform for other enterprises too.

Interestingly A10 Networks competes with different vendors across ADN, load balancing, web security etcetra. What’s your real competitive edge ?

We really don’t want customers to ‘rip and replace’ anything as we do co-exist in many environments. For example, an existing F5 customer might use that company’s load balancing and maybe ADN. But we execute many solutions simultaneously than a couple of them by other vendors like F5 in the IT environment. The customers’ requirements are escalating continuously for multiple functionalities like SSLi, WAF etcetera. We could use that opportunity to get into their infra and build our solutions like CGN or DDoS protection on top of them.

In a competitive environment, the customer would need multiple devices for these solutions. But we can execute everything in much lesser devices or in a single device at times through our products’ excellent form factor. The value proposition for customers is no licensing and high performance throughput to name a few. And in the long run we will probably end up replacing the competition.

Besides dominance in telcos, which are the other lucrative verticals for you in India? Are you targeting mid-market and SMBs too?

In India, mid-market to very large enterprises comprises of over 5000 customers – and that’s a huge market. The other customers set besides telcos are large enterprise customers in BFSI, IT/ITES and web giants who are building their own datacentres. We have a good presence across e-commerce companies in India.

Lot of customers are moving their applications on hosted or cloud based models. And many of them are also building datacentres due to regulatory compliance requirements. In both cases we are ready with our portfolio. We have a license model with AWS as the customers can choose our products there and we also work with Microsoft Azure platform.

We can help customers with hosted model as we work with managed service providers who license our products or provide virtual instance. For customers who want to explore cloud, we are ready with our cloud enabled solutions.

What are typical pain points faced by organisations in the applications space?

The major dilemma for CIOs is deciding the location to host the applications – on premise or cloud. However many IT managers are putting mission critical applications on cloud unlike in the past. Regulation and compliance will drive most CIO decisions on their uncertainty around the cloud route.

Any network which is not context aware will be a nightmare for CIOs with the increase of data and applications making the networks denser and more complex to handle with traditional devices. Our solutions track all different devices like android, iPhone and their origin from low or high bandwidth. A10 Networks provides a context aware platform to orchestrate various workloads across devices and applications. We also work with SDN and open source vendors to orchestrate and charter the resources in the infrastructure. Depending on whichever application or workload in the network seeks more attention and bandwidth, we facilitate that in a seamless way.

Context aware networks are the future as it will become imperative for the company to factor in all devices today and the ones they add on in the future into their infrastructure.

Do Indian CIOs realize ‘applications roadmap’ as a long term strategy or are they compelled to deploy the most cost effective solution available?

Cost is undoubtedly one of the biggest driving factor for most Indian companies. There are many technologies that comply with networking demands on paper but is not as easy as ticking the box for CIOs. But the real issues with modern networks with applications and security are much more complex.

Many cost effective solution vendors often confuse the customers than prove their value proposition. About 30% of the customers traverse this short term route for cost effective solution to bridge the gap for the moment.

Majority of Indian CIOs with long term vision for applications roadmap are increasingly adopting our solutions at a premium for a highly available, high throughput and secured networking infrastructure.

What business trends will drive the demand for the solutions offered by A10 Networks?

Mobility is a big trend. Customers want secure transactions as SSL traffic is increasing exponentially in corporate networks from 6% a few years ago up to 40 %. It is expected to become 70% of the overall network traffic by the end of 2017. SaaS trend and the customers adopting cloud is a major factor driving SSL traffic. The traditional networks will fail the minute you turn on SSL decryption. That’s a sweet spot for us as leaders in SSL offloads to do traffic engineering for customers’ network encompassing firewalls, APTs, IPS, SIEM etc. A10 networks is capable of handling SSL as a high throughput intensive application.

DDOS space caters to huge volumes which cannot be handled by traditional network devices .Our solutions’ price performance ratios and form factors are good for DDoS. For 150 Gig deployment, our nearest competition will need around 6 boxes but we deliver the same through a single box.

Your top priorities for India in 2016 and beyond.

We are popular in CGN (Carrier Grade Networking) in the telecom space and we want to consolidate our position in this space as the transition happens from 3G to LTE. The second priority is building a channel ecosystem and have a strong partner base in Tier 1 and Tier 2 - across country both in terms of geographic spread and capability to articulate our solutions.

And lastly, continue the focus on company’s evolving product lines like DDoS, SSLi and make them more market-ready for deployment across enterprises.