Embrane Unveils Distributed Software Platform for Virtualizing Network Services

Embrane today announced the immediate availability of heleos, the first distributed software platform for powering on-demand elastic network services such as load balancers, firewalls, virtual private networks (VPNs) and WAN Optimization. Targeted to cloud service providers (CSPs) and enterprises building public, private or hybrid cloud environments, the unique platform enables the procurement, provisioning and configuration of multiple network services in seconds. heleos also scales out for high performance and can elastically grow and shrink network services on-demand.

In addition to launching heleos and formally introducing the company, Embrane also released two of its own layer 4-7 network services, the heleos-powered load balancer and the heleos-powered firewall/VPN. Running on heleos, these services deliver the performance and scalability advantages of a hardware-based appliance and the flexibility and simplicity of a virtualized, software-based solution.

“When it comes to delivering cloud infrastructure-as-a-service, we have been limited in our ability to offer network services such as load balancers, firewalls and VPNs as dedicated, per-customer instances,” said Denis Martin, chief technology officer of NaviSite. “Current offerings tend to be too rigid for the cloud, don’t provide all of the required programmability hooks, or are just too expensive. Embrane’s heleos platform is clearly addressing these issues, bringing the agility of rapid provisioning, elasticity and programmability to network services.”

Under the Hood of heleos

Embrane’s heleos uses a pool of standards-based x86 servers and leverages off-the-shelf compute virtualization technology from any hypervisor vendor, to extract granular portions of compute resources. It then dynamically assigns them to network service instances. When more capacity is needed, more compute power can be pulled from anywhere in the pool and non-disruptively assigned to a service. Capacity can be doubled in seconds, or grown eight times in less than a minute. Similarly, when capacity needs to be reduced, it can be dynamically scaled back down.

The platform comprises two key components:

  • heleos Distributed Virtual Appliances (DVAs) – the logical containers for running network services; and
  • heleos Elastic Services Manager (ESM) – a virtual procurement and provisioning tool that streamlines deployment of DVAs for services on-demand.

“While heleos represents a technology innovation that will fundamentally change the way network services are delivered, we expressly designed it in a way that is non-disruptive and strictly aligned with established data center best practices,” added Marco Di Benedetto, co-founder and CTO of Embrane. “We have created a programmable platform that supports physical and virtual compute workloads, or a hybrid of the two. Our distributed, scale-out architecture enables our customers to offer a wide capacity range that supports dedicated or shared services, giving them new opportunities to offer more services and drive more profitable revenue growth.”

The heleos ESM and heleos DVAs also include comprehensive, easy-to-use RESTful APIs that enable straightforward integration with internally developed or commercial cloud orchestration tools, as well as other OSS and BSS applications.

“Cloud infrastructure customers want to be able to consume networking capabilities in a programmatic, on-demand, pay-as-you-go manner, without up-front costs or commitments,” said Lydia Leong, Research Vice President at Gartner. “But while service providers have learned to deliver compute and storage resources in the cloud in a highly automated, elastic manner, they struggle to do the same with network functions.”

The first two services to run on the platform are the heleos-powered load balancer, optimized for applications and the cloud, and the heleos-powered firewall/VPN for firewall and site-to-site IPsec VPN. The heleos platform supports any number of instances of both services concurrently. CSPs and enterprises benefit from the agility features of the platform such as rapid provisioning, elastic scaling and multi-tenancy via dedicated instances. Users of cloud services can now deploy their applications in the cloud with dedicated virtual instances with guaranteed level of service and no longer have to settle for shared environments.

Simplifying Operations – Keyless Licensing, Easier Demand Planning, Pay as You Sell

In addition to bringing agility and cost savings to network services for cloud infrastructure, heleos also solves several operational challenges presented by today’s options for network services. heleos eliminates the challenge of long lead-times that come from procuring hardware devices and the cost associated with pre-purchasing and maintaining an inventory of hardware appliances. Also, with the heleos keyless licensing model, operations teams no longer have to procure, manage and track multiple software keys associated with individual virtual appliances.

Embrane offers two types of keyless licensing plans — usage-based and subscription — that require minimal up-front capital investment. This allows CSPs as well as enterprises to have complete control over adding capacity while reducing the added expense and complexity of license management. To add more capacity or more services, Embrane customers simply use the heleos ESM to dynamically spin up additional DVAs or non-disruptively grow the capacity of existing DVAs without needing to explicitly and individually license them.

With the usage-based pricing option, heleos also helps CSPs to grow their business profitably as it does not require significant up-front capital investment and they only pay for the services after they sell them. Once they establish their capacity needs, they can easily switch over to subscription-based pricing. Likewise, if capacity needs change, or if customers consuming the service need a burst of capacity, the elasticity of the Embrane platform allows it to happen on-demand with no disruption. CSPs pay simply pay for the capacity consumed above their subscription level.

Pricing and Availability

Embrane’s heleos platform and heleos-powered network services are available immediately. Depending on the pricing model a customer selects:

  • heleos ESM starts at $700 per month and can provision as many network services as needed
  • Usage-based pricing starts at 16 cents an hour for 10 Mbps for a heleos-powered load balancer and 8 cents an hour for 100 Mbps for a heleos-powered firewall/VPN
  • Subscription-based pricing starts at $750 per year for 10 Mbps for a heleos-powered load balancer and $375 per year for a 100 Mbps for a heleos-powered firewall/VPN
  • Additional instances and burst capacity under each licensing plan can be purchased as needed

Embrane’s mission is to accelerate the adoption of cloud computing and IT-as-a-service by delivering the most dynamic platform for virtual network services. Based in Silicon Valley, Embrane delivers the first distributed software platform that powers high-performance, elastic, virtual network services on-demand.