Intent-based networking pioneer Apstra announced today that it has entered into a distribution agreement with Tokyo Electron Device (TED) for the Japanese market.
For those who don’t know Apstra, the company came to market with an intent-based networking solution for the data center in June 2016. Since then, Cisco’s “Network Intuitive” launch, which was all about intent-based networking, has made intent-based networking a household term (at least for households with Cisco engineers in them). Cisco’s solution is focused at the campus and Apstra at the data center, but the two companies are working with the same vision of automating network operations using intent rather than manual processes.
+ Also on Network World: What is intent-based networking? +
Tokyo-based TED may not be as well known as the foul-mouthed stuffed bear from the Mark Wahlberg movie that it shares the name, with but it is very well known in Silicon Valley circles. TED tends to live on the bleeding edge and was the first, or one of the first, resellers for many innovative start-ups, such as Arista, Nicira (now NSX at VMware) and FORE systems. Apstra certainly falls into the category of transformative vendors, so it makes sense that TED would be its first distribution partner.
How TED will help Apstra and Apstra customers
TED plays an obvious role in helping Apstra scale through broader distribution, but more important is TED’s systems integrator capabilities in helping customers get the product up and running. The target market for Apstra is webscale companies and large enterprises. Those are technically advanced organizations, but the concept of intent-based networking is still relatively new. Also, there can be a significant amount of upfront work to perform to get the solution working correctly, and TED can bring a wealth of best practices. Remember, intent-based networking operates on a closed-look model where the telemetry information is constantly scanned and compared to the intent and then changes are made automatically.
Trusting machines to the network is a huge leap of faith. The payback is significant, and the types of companies Apstra sells to are always looking to get an edge on the competition, so they’re willing to go through the initial work to shift to an intent-based model—and TED’s expertise can go a long way toward facilitating that process.
Also, Apstra is vendor-agnostic, which could add another layer of complexity that isn’t there with a single-vendor solution. Apstra uses the available APIs from the various vendors, which certainly simplifies things over having to inject CLI commands, but the various vendors do have different structures and capabilities to the APIs. Apstra has done the heavy lifting so the customer does not need to.
TED is a great distribution and SI partner for Apstra, but it certainly won’t be the last. Over the balance of the year, I expect to see other partners like TED announced in the U.S. and Europe.
One final note, I did ask Apstra to provide an update on the number of customers, and as per their policy, they declined to do so. However, I believe the era of intent-based networking has started, and Apstra is at the forefront of that—and is working with some of the most technically advanced customers—so it’s my assumption that traction is currently strong.