It’s been a little more than one month since IIX first made the cryptic announcement that it had in the works a game-changing Software-as-a-Service app for provisioning network interconnection in data centers but stopped there without sharing much detail about how the app would work or who would use it. The Silicon Valley startup filled in the blanks this week, unveiling Console, some well-known early adopters of the platform, and a list of partners that will help take it to market.
IIX’s goal with Console is to make data center interconnection as simple as making a few mouse clicks on the screen, Al Burgio, the company’s founder and CEO, said. Enterprises, carriers, service providers, or anybody else that uses data center services, need to connect their infrastructure to others. A SaaS company, for example, may need to connect to other cloud companies, a payment processing company, and to enterprise customers that don’t want to use its services over the public internet. While its data center provider may offer the physical interconnects, configuring them takes a lot of expertise, which it either needs to have in-house or hire outside help. That’s the need Console addresses: automatic interconnect configuration, regardless of who you’re interconnecting with.
“There’s no other platform in the world that can enable true direct interconnection that fully automates Layer 2 and Layer 3 BGP configuration that also auto-assigns Autonomous System Numbers,” Burgio said. “We developed console to do that. They simply have to click a button.”
Console can be used through both a graphic interface and through RESTful APIs for users that want deep integration with existing automated workflows they may have. Cloud storage company Box, one of Console’s early adopters, uses the latter option, according to Burgio.
Because being part of an interconnection ecosystem is much like being a member of a social network, IIX included a social-networking element in Console. In a traditional data center interconnection scenario, representatives from two companies meet, agree that they would both benefit from interconnecting their networks, and then implement the link. The social networking aspect of Console narrows this process down to something similar to connecting to someone on LinkedIn, as Burgio described it. LinkedIn also happens to be an early adopter.
Through Console, IIX offers connectivity options on a global scale. Following its acquisition of interconnection provider IX Reach in April, the company’s has Points of Presence in about 150 locations in North America, Europe, and Asia Pacific, including in data centers operated by Equinix, Telecity, and Interxion, among others. It has partnerships with numerous data center providers, including vXchnge, Hurricane Electric, and T5 Data Centers, and with the biggest public cloud infrastructure providers: Amazon, Microsoft, and Google.
IIX has made at least one technology-oriented acquisition – a $10 million purchase of connectivity automation company Allegro Networks last year – but it built Console from scratch, Burgio said. A big part of the engineering effort was CloudRouter, the open source software-defined networking project that uses OpenDaylight and ONOS. OpenDaylight is an open source SDN controller, and ONOS is an open network operating system. CloudRouter is a Linux-based SDN implementation optimized for interconnection. IIX founded the CloudRouter project, and CloudRouter is its registered trademark, Burgio said.
As enterprises turn to technology to create value, they develop more sophisticated infrastructure needs. They want to use public cloud infrastructure services, include various web services in their applications through APIs, and deliver those applications to users globally, all while bypassing the public internet whenever possible. Companies like IIX want to give these enterprises the tools they need to build this infrastructure without hiring in-house interconnection experts or contracting the work out. Console is an attempt to bring the simplicity of provisioning cloud VMs on Amazon Web Services to data center interconnection on a global scale.