Every time I attend an SNW one particular technology captures my fancy and this one was no different. However what caught my attention this time has nothing to do with deduplication or solid state drives which I fully expected given the focus on these two technologies the past year or so. Instead it was a networking company called Asankya Networks from Atlanta, GA, that stands to create a new paradigm for how companies think about cloud computing.
This compelling technology that Asankya brings to market is its new RAPIDnet service.
What it does is address a fundamental problem in cloud computing: accelerating application performance over the WAN. This may seem like a problem that has already been solved by the likes of Riverbed Networks or Acamai Technoloiges but Asankya changes the paradigm of how WAN acceleration is accomplished by tacking it from a totally different perspective.
Rather than doing it at the edge as other solutions do, Asankya actually deploys its own high end appliances at the sites of Internet services providers. What then makes Asankya fundamentally better than competing solutions is that it supplants the current Open Shortest Path First (OPSF) method found in the Cisco routers used on the Internet with what is, in essense, an Open Fastest Path First algorithm that routes data around bottlenecks in the Internet.
What Asankya has discovered is that the current OSPF routing method can result in too much data going through a specific router which causes congestion. This causes unacceptable latency in the Internet for cloud providers like Zetta who commented that they are encountering and currently trying to resolve this exact issue for one of their clients right now.
Using Asankya’s RAPIDnet service which has appliances deployed with service providers, it monitors Cisco routers throughout the Internet (or at least those Cisco routers where an Asankya appliance is located). Then as it detects congestion on one of more routers, it notifies all of the appliances in the network as to which Cisco routers are the least busy and reroutes the traffic on these less congested Internet paths creating a Fastest Path First option.
To use this Fastest Path Service option, organizations must deploy an Asankya solution in their environment (software client or an appliance) that then properly encodes the data so it can take advantage of this change in the network. While I don’t have the exact details on how everything works, it apparently inserts some of its own code in the network data stream so the other Asankya appliances on the Internet can detect this code and route it via the fastest path.
What is equally interesting is that Asankya can also concurrently send the data down multiple paths (up to 4) to the destination and it does in order data transmission to ensure data integrity. This makes it possible for a company to securely and confidently save data to a cloud storage target.
Obviously Asankya is still in its early stages and it was unclear to me how many Internet services providers have actually deployed their appliances and to what degree they are in use. But that said, in the cases where they have deployed thes systems, they have seen improved application performance times of anywhere from 4 – 20x depending on the situation.
Bottom line, very cool technology. While it is still in the very early stages of adoption and deployment, it does promise to create some new and interesting ways of thinking about how cloud storage can be used going forward and may help to accelerate the adoption of more applications using cloud storage as their back end storage repository.