SDN Focus: Interview with KEMP Technologies’ CMO Atchison Frazer (video)

5 Jun 2014

Software applications are increasingly going to drive business demand for network infrastructure, increasing the importance of software-defined networking says Atchison Frazer, chief marketing officer of KEMP Technologies.

Frazer, a veteran of the networking industry who played key roles at players that include Cisco, Gnodal and Fortinet.

KEMP is one of the leading players in the application delivery controller (ADC) market, better known as load balancing.

As Frazer sees it ADC is moving further up the technology stack to where intelligence in terms of the health and availability of critical applications and the security of those applications are becoming increasingly important.

New York-headquartered KEMP Technologies, which is growing its Limerick workforce to over 80 people, is playing a leading role in establishing the first Open Tech Ireland gathering on SDN technology at Kilmainham Castle on 30 June.

In addition to the Open Networking Foundation (ONF) and IDA Ireland, Open Tech Ireland: An SDN Gathering is being presented in co-operation with the Irish Software Association, Intune Networks, KEMP Technologies, and Sanctum Networks. The symposium is designed to be a gathering of international SDN luminaries, Irish companies already on the leading edge of SDN, employees of multinational companies with facilities in Ireland, and energetic entrepreneurs and investors.

Speaking at the event will be key people in the SDN space including senior vice president and GM of HP’s Network Functions Virtualisation Business Bethany Mayer and the executive director of the Open Networking Foundation Dan Pitt.

SDN is an innovation platform

As Frazer sees it the software application is going to drive business demand for infrastructure.

“A few years ago it was just the opposite, you would build a very large network infrastructure and wait for someone to write or define applications to run on top of that. Today we see a total flip in that.

“The application that is written to a business demand or business use will dictate the type of network infrastructure that is required. And so with the proliferation of APIs – and I think there are over 10,000 APIs out in the wild that a developer can leverage to create a net-new enterprise applications – the whole point of SDN is that it is going to be an innovation platform.

“You can’t really predict what type of enterprise applcations you are going to need to build and raise so that you have agility in bringing new products and services to market.

“So what KEMP Tech does is we actually ensure that those applications are optimized for the exact infrastructure they are running, that’s exactly what load balancing does.

“We ensure that it is highly available, that it is delivered with certain performance standards and that it has the type of security that determines the proper use of that application so that it fits in with the corporate governance standards.”

Skills for the future of networking

Proponents of SDN reckon a new working order will arrive as the technology takes hold, requireing software skills first and foremost and potentially leaving network engineers who fail to embrace the new technology in the wilderness.

Atchison believes it is really about keeping up with emerging standards like the OpenFlow protocols.

“The networking engineering dynamic was pretty well established for the last 10 years. What you are going to see now are folks who can really develop software that interoperates with other applications so the idea of service-chaining will be an important factor.

“But just simply following industry standards like the OpenFlow protocol in order to make applications declarative to the rest of the network infrastructure I think will be really, really important.

“The good news for companies like KEMP Technologies and Irish-centric software development companies is that we have already been working on software for 10 years now.

“We are ten years in to software development cycles for our products and our technologies so we have a core competency, we have that DNA and I think our ability to move faster and to adapt to the changing world that is application-centric is a huge advantage for us over other players who come from the networking point of view and are device and hardware-centric.

“The virtualised network function of application delivery is going to be a huge trend that we hope we can capitalise on,” Frazer said.

KEMP Technologies is one of the companies supporting Ireland’s first SDN symposium to explore SDN’s potential within the country. The event takes place at 9am on Monday 30 June at the Royal Hospital Kilmainham.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years