Andrew Pryfogle: Alright. Welcome back to the studio in Petaluma. Sitting here with the CTO, Ashwath Nagaraj from Aryaka. One of our go to suppliers for this next generation WAN stuff that we all are excited about. Welcome!

Ashwath Nagaraj: Great to be here!

Andrew Pryfogle: This is a really fascinating time when it comes to wide area networking, and it’s completely changing around us. So, you know we kind of built this whole business, this community has such an enormous book of business around MPLS networks and global networks. What you guys are doing at Aryaka truly is disruptive. Talk to us first about what’s causing this change. What was driving you to help found this company years ago? What was the reason behind all this?

Ashwath Nagaraj: At the lowest level, it’s the Internet. At a level beyond that, its globalization, and its impact on all enterprises and so on. Their connectivity needs, the flexibility of the Internet, growth speeds of enterprises, especially if you start an office in China. You start with 25 people, you want to go to 250 people, you have a need for flexibility. Internet offers that flexibility, but unfortunately it doesn’t offer the productivity. So, a whole suite of changes. The Internet and globalization.

The Internet has also facilitated a lot of applications moving out from your premises into the cloud. So, I would say put all of that stuff together, and say what solution do you need to replace the current combination of MPLS, Internet, poor productivity on the Internet, etc. That’s really what we started addressing.

Andrew Pryfogle: Got it. So, for years we have had the ability of doing the VPN over the public Internet, and maybe even a global network trying to use VPN as kind of a base technology that would replace in theory my MPLS network. What are the shortfalls of VPN solutions, and how is this different?

Ashwath Nagaraj: Back in about 2000, I joined with a few others and started a company that built Internet VPNs. And the company was actually acquired by Cisco, and some of the products that we did are actually integrated into Cisco products today. Cisco has always had a very good Internet VPN solution. What’s the problem with an Internet VPN solution? It provides connectivity, but does not give you the kind of performance you need.

You take a user, they are on an MPLS network, they were connected into their servers, they got LAN like performance, they put in traditional WAN optimization appliances, Riverbed, so on and so forth, and they were feeling really good and productive, and suddenly you put them on to the Internet. I mean, productivity went straight down. Right? That’s the challenge. From on prem to the cloud, move from exchange to exchange online, you moved from Lync to Lync through Office 365. The difference is so dramatic, that without a solution you almost have to give up your plans to transition to Office 365, and there are many companies that have had this problem. Great flexibility with the Internet, poor performance.

Andrew Pryfogle: You bring up the Office 365 angle, that’s a really interested driver in our market right now. Because Microsoft is actually dictating that customers move to Office 365. I mean they are forcing that change. Yet, the network is not necessarily ready for it, for a lot of companies. That must present a huge opportunity for you.

Ashwath Nagaraj: That is a huge opportunity, and in fact, I will say that the biggest barrier to the growth of cloud, SaaS applications is the network, and in small regional places. Let’s say that you had two offices, both in San Jose. You switch to Office 365, your data is hosted maybe in a Seattle data center, you are ok. Right? Take somebody who says, alright I got these two offices. But, I want to open an office in China, everything breaks down. I will give you a very good example. We had a marquee brand name semiconductor company, I can’t go to the name. They actually started a deployment of Office 365. It’s probably about a 25,000-person company. They started the deployment across the US. – Beautiful! What was driving it?  The need to switch from on prem managed Exchange and Office, and so on and so forth. To a much lower management SaaS solution, Office 365.

So far, they have met their objective, they start the rollout outside the continental US, going to France alright, the first hiccups start. You know what, we have some outages, but we are ok. Then they move to India and China, and at that point they are at a situation where they say, do we need to roll this whole thing back, because it doesn’t work?  They actually talked to us on a Friday, and we went on a trial on the same Monday. It was a last ditch effort. They brought online a 5000 user office in Tianjin China, just as a test. I said, “oh we’ve got to just throw everything at it.” They start first day with 750 users, the next day it’s about 2500, and by Friday they were ready to sign. Because they said, I mean, look we have actually now been able to say that Office 365 actually works.

You know what happened really, is that the users were used to a certain quality and productivity in terms of the use of these applications. If you turn that off, it’s not acceptable. If you had a lousy standard its ok. But, once you have set a good standard with MPLS, now you need to move that application to an equally good standard, even when you went SaaS. And it’s one of our big customers. They have been our customer for two years now. Year and a half, and probably about 10,000 users in China, Israel, France, and so on, use our network. Just the same problem.

Andrew Pryfogle: What’s really key about this is that people might make this mistake, this is not just some unique technology that you layer on top of the Internet. But, there is some cool secret sauce that you use. There is a core global private network that’s in the middle of all this, that you connect people to. Talk about the difference there.

Ashwath Nagaraj: Think of it this way, I mean you could have a freeway into your house, you could build another freeway to the next house. What we do, is we bring a freeway system to which you can connect and on ramp, the on ramp being the Internet, flexible. The freeway is rigid. But on the other hand it’s fast. So, we put all these PoPs around the world, we bring a point of presence within a 20 or 30 may be 40 millisecond from your office. Give you a short hop on a flexible Internet connection. The long haul stays on a core private network, and fundamentally the value that we bring with this network. We layered on software on top of that, the software that makes everything agile and flexible. So, you want to have 10 megabits today, and then you want to go to a 100 megabits subscription tomorrow. It’s just a dial and it happens in seconds. You want to add a cloud service, it’s just another button added on, and now you are connected to the cloud service. So, the platform consists of a core private network, points of presence around the world, and software running on what you call COTS, that is basically off the shelf hardware.   We just use X86 servers.

We are trying to change the whole model of building custom everything. You own a network, what do you do? You go to MPLS, what is MPLS? You look at the service providers, they go to Cisco and Juniper, they buy these boxes, and now they want to add a service, they buy other boxes, and they actually physically connect them. So, they are doing things on a per user, per customer basis. We need to move to a model where every service runs on top of software platform where third parties can develop their own service.

You have a vendor who says, look we have great remote access solution. Great, deploy it around the world on an Aryaka platform, and offer that service to any enterprise who wants mobile/road warriors to have great access into their network. That’s the power of a platform, enabling new services to come-in and it’s exactly the way the cloud has gone. So, this is truly the cloud model of the network. Let’s put it that way. Right? Access, flexibility, performs like traditional, rigid stuff people are happy with and can grow in time with new services.

Andrew Pryfogle: I have a daughter that’s in college, and growing up I used to tell her every day as she left the house going to school, I said honey, change the world, no pressure. Do you feel like this is the kind of service that is so disruptive when it comes to wide area networks, this is a game changer? I mean you guys are really changing how the networks can be deployed. The impact of that can be huge.

Ashwath Nagaraj: Absolutely. And that’s what’s fun about it, right?   I mean it’s a lot of fun, and the real barrier is not whether it should be there, but it is just back to the ASP model, back in the late 90s right. It’s a mindset change. You have people who are used to the iron they bought. They have made these decisions, they have locked in capital, they have locked in investments. And you have to change their minds to say, hey it’s happening anyway. Are you on it or not? And to get it, has taken a few years. But, now it is starting to happen. It’s a rolling stone, I mean it’s really picking up.

Andrew Pryfogle: Very cool stuff! What a compelling story, I’m so excited to hear about how you guys are solving real problems in the wide area network with this next generation stuff that absolutely is a game changer. Check them out guys! Aryaka. There you go! Good selling!