InterCloud Launches Lab Service to Prove New-Age Networking Concepts

InterCloud Systems Inc. recently unveiled a new cloud service that will let enterprises test software-defined networking (SDN) and network functions virtualization (NFV) technologies, proving concepts in a simplified environment before moving them to production.

The company's new "SDN/NFV Proof of Concept-as-a-Service" (PoCaaS) joins other acronym-laced products it provides, such as Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) and Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS).

"The concept of overlay networking, service chaining, automation and open orchestration for virtualized compute, network and storage resources is extremely complex and needs to be thoroughly tested and managed in a lab environment by qualified engineers," InterCloud said in a news release today. "The need for testing SDN and NFV in a lab environment also creates an issue for our customers around limited human resources, budgets and timelines to deliver new IT initiatives."

Intercloud said it can provide a team of such qualified engineers to help implement testing projects. The service for now is limited to OpenStack and Juniper Networks Open Contrail SDN deployments, with InterCloud providing physical and virtual infrastructure (and help, if needed) on a pay-as-you-go pricing model.

The service works via a Web portal where interested users can indicate what date they want to start their testing, following a setup guide, with guaranteed uninterrupted access. To help educate customers, InterCloud said it has set up a portal where anyone can register for a free lab and tutorial to try out the service.

The figure below shows what such a lab topology might look like. In the figure, green, blue and red virtual machines (VMs) are shown with an orange firewall. VMs with the same color are on the same network so they can ping one another regardless of their host node. The firewall is enacted through "service chaining," which InterCloud said is a unique advantage of the Juniper Contrail solution. The firewall controls traffic between the green and red networks.

>Lab Topology
[Click on image for larger view.]Lab Topology (source: InterCloud Systems Inc.)

The InterCloud service is joining a growing portfolio of solutions designed to let companies try out new-age networking technologies. For example, Big Switch Networks offers SDN starter kits, as does Plexxi Inc., while IBM has set up Innovation Centers and Brocade Communications Systems Inc. will provide a free one-year license to test its SDN controller.

"Setting up an SDN-POC is a major project in itself," InterCloud CEO Mark Munro said. "We want to expedite the process for our customers by offering POC-as-a-Service and saving them valuable time in setting up the entire lab and going through months of expensive designs and installations."

About the Author

David Ramel is the editor of Visual Studio Magazine.