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Netsocket Compresses Software-Defined Networking to MSP Scale

Software-defined networking (SDN) is usually discussed as a solution for cloud computing giants and enterprises with large datacenters, but one Plano, Texas-based company believes there's an SMB-scale opportunity in the technology for managed service providers.

Netsocket Inc. this week rolled out a packaged offering for MSPs called Netsocket Virtual Edge, which is targeted at SMBs and enterprise remote offices.

"Managed service providers must find a way to provide affordable network services to smaller business customers and at a profit," said Netsocket President and CEO Fletcher Hamilton in announcing Virtual Edge. "We are very excited to pioneer the path for MSPs by delivering a solution that can virtually revolutionize their business and profitability model and, in short, result in new revenue streams."

SDN represents an effort to abstract the network logic and policies from the networking hardware -- placing it instead on a server, where it can be modified with more user-friendly tools that work across multiple types of hardware from many vendors. The idea is to create a "control plane," which is configurable from a server and which is separate from a "data plane" of packet-routing activity carried out in real time.

Based on Netsocket's SDN framework called Netsocket Virtual Network, Virtual Edge consists of a standard x86, pre-configured server that acts as a server, router and Layer 3 switch. The package can be shipped to the customer, eliminating the need for an MSP to visit each customer site.

Once the customer plugs in the server and attaches a cable, the system is designed for an MSP to centrally manage the virtualized network, along with those of other customers through a multi-tenant management interface. From the management console, MSPs can manage edge routing, switching, firewall and tunneling capabilities to distributed environments, while the on-site server can also support additional third-party SDN solutions, according to Netsocket.

Netsocket's channel building effort is still in the early stages and the company is looking for new MSP partners.

One prominent Microsoft National Systems Integrator (NSI) partner with an MSP practice, Catapult Systems based in Austin, Texas, is trying out the Netsocket SDN solutions in its own branch offices to evaluate if SDN represents a workable model for small and remote office customers.

In a statement, Catapult Systems IT Director Joe Stocker reported good results internally: "Utilizing the NVN Web-based GUI, I've been able to make adds and changes to the network within mere minutes."

Posted by Scott Bekker on February 14, 2014 at 9:14 AM


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