It’s hard to be a network virtualization startup. Sure, SDN is hot, and the tech press and analysts are pouring thousands of words about it into the blogosphere every day. But when your direct competitors are VMware and Juniper, it’s all too easy for smaller players to slip below the radar.
Case in point is Midokura, a Japanese-based startup founded in 2010. The startup came out of the gate with an overlay-based network virtualization platform called MidoNet.
Briefly, here’s how the product works. MidoNet agents installed on hypervisors create a network overlay using VXLAN or GRE on an IP-based underlay. The agents form a distributed control plane to program and monitor flows. Software gateways terminate tunnels to link to physical L2/L3 networks.
Midokura’s approach to network virtualization was comparable to that of other young competitors, but a little startup called Nicira seized the market’s attention when it was acquired by VMware for $1.26 billion and rebranded NSX.
Pieces In Place
Yet while media attention has been focused on Nicira/NSX, Midokura has been quietly putting the pieces in place to make its own run at market penetration.
First, the company moved to gain mindshare by switching from a proprietary model to open source back in 2014. The startup decided open source was a more viable option because it would get its code into more hands more quickly, and provide some reassurance for customers taking a chance on a small company.
“Customers know they can put their hands on the code if they need to,” said Midokura spokesperson. “If the startup with the neat product goes out of business, worst case, the consumer has access to source code even if the company is gone.”
Second, Midokura has significantly amped up its sales and marketing capabilities thanks to a partnership with Fujitsu, one of the world’s biggest IT providers.
Midokura has announced that Fujitsu will use MidoNet as the network overlay in the OpenStack private cloud package that Fujitsu sells to its own customers. This agreement further cements an OEM partnership the two companies announced in July 2014.
In Fujitsu’s private cloud offering, MidoNet replaces the Open vSwitch plug-in that runs in the Neutron networking module within OpenStack.
“When a consumer buys a private cloud from Fujitsu, it will be based on OpenStack, and the networking component is going to be Midokura,” said.
Having a brand-name partner in Fujitsu opens more doors for Midokura. It can get its product in front of many more customers than it could on its own.
Plus, Fujitsu will provide full, end-to-end customer support, allowing Midokura to focus more resources on developing its product. Meanwhile, both Fujitsu and Midokura will collaborate globally on marketing and sales.
As Midokura continues to develop its MidoNet product, Fujitsu’s cloud offering will get the updates, as will the rest of the open source community.also says the intent is that features developed by Fujitsu to meet customer requests will make their way into the open source offering.
As mentioned, VMware is a main competitor, but the company also cites Juniper OpenContrail and Plumgrid, as well as Nuage Networks to some degree, though Nuage Networks is more focused on carriers and large service providers.
Midokura sees OpenStack as a vehicle to penetrate NSX environments (though not necessarily unseat VMware). For instance, OpenStack may find a home in Dev/Test environments where workloads need to be stood up and torn down quickly, and developers are willing to play with open source software.
Midokura claims that its product is winning in customer bakeoffs, but that’s what you’d expect them to claim. That said, bakeoff victories would indicate a degree of technical prowess, and Fujitsu’s OEM agreement is a strong validation of Midokura’s underlying technology.
If Midokura wasn’t on your network virtualization/SDN radar, maybe it should be.