Masergy Releases Cloud-Based Routing Service With Software-Defined Networking

Managed networking and cloud provider Masergy Communications Thursday made available a cloud-based routing service aimed at enterprise customers with small branch offices.

The virtual solution, Cloud Router, is intended to spare those customers the trouble and expense of procuring, powering and managing in all their outposts the on-premise routers that direct their Internet traffic, said Tim Naramore, the company's CTO.

Cloud Router also gives those customers greater network control through software-defined networking, an approach consistent with Masergy's founding tradition of implementing automated solutions whenever possible.

[Related: Masergy Grows Security Services Footprint With Global DataGuard Buy]

Sponsored post

"All of our network offerings are managed. It's our claim to fame," Naramore told CRN. "If you've got global locations and don't want to deal with 20 providers, come to us and we'll give you a consistent network experience and deal with all the providers."

That overall philosophy in many ways is a result of market conditions in 2001, when Masergy was founded in Plano, Texas, as a provider of VPN solutions.

The nascent company made a risky gambit in using MPLS to direct network traffic -- at the time a cutting-edge technology -- and was going head-to-head against telecoms AT&T, Verizon and British Telecom.

Masergy couldn't match those powerhouses in human capital, Naramore said, "so we automated all the service components early on."

Cloud Router comes in two flavors, Naramore told CRN.

The Standard service level is an inexpensive solution to facilitate simple routing needs.

The Advanced option adds the ability to handle Cisco proprietary protocols, allowing customers to do just about anything they could do with an on-premise Cisco router.

Masergy connects businesses to its cloud facilities for voice, data, and now routing services through virtual private networks built with T1 lines or other high-speed circuits that pass through servers at regional co-location facilities.

The prelude to cloud-based routing came in 2010, when Masergy introduced a cloud-based firewall.

Instead of customers needing to demarcate their networks and sit a device to guard the perimeter, the virtual firewall allowed them to connect to Masergy's cloud through the VPN, where the firewall was implemented and managed.

"That was our first foray into network function virtualization," Naramore told CRN.

"A lot of our customers have said, 'We'd love to see you do for the router what you did for the firewall. Just give it to us as a metered service, out of the cloud,' " Naramore told CRN.

NEXT: Implementing Unified Cloud Services Strategy

A few years ago, Masergy bought Los Angeles-based Broadcore Communications and integrated its unified communications-as-a-service technology. Last year's acquisition of Global DataGuard added a strong managed security component to Masergy's network and cloud portfolio.

With those products part of its current portfolio, Masergy's focus is on winning enterprise clients in the Fortune 2000 to 5000 range, though the networking provider serves some larger companies as well.

The software-defined networking approach "enables us to give our customers a lot more control over the network," Naramore said.

Customers and solution providers can use a portal to alter their network's bandwidth or allocation of bandwidth. They can even calendar bandwidth criteria for foreseeable events, such as a data center backup.

Cloud Router will give Masergy's channel partners more options with which to win customers, according to the company's CTO.

"It gives them the option of moving that into the cloud, which is more cost-effective," Naramore told CRN. "Increased reliability, reduced complexity, and it allows them to set up more quickly because we don't have to give them a truck roll to get that service."

Ian Kieninger, CEO of Avant Communications, told CRN the communications technology distributor based in Crescent Springs, Ky., is excited about the latest software-defined networking product from Masergy.

"Their innovative Cloud Router service will enable enterprises to have fully managed routing with fast deployment, reduced IT costs and advanced business continuity," Kieninger told CRN via email.

Cloud Router isn't for everyone, Naramore told CRN. Both service levels max out at 100 Mbps, so it wouldn't be an advisable routing solution to serve a high-data-throughput facility.

Because customers won't have an on-premise router, they won't be able to handle failover between two circuits, or do their own quality-of-service tagging within the router.

But for certain customers at certain facilities, cloud-based routing should prove the most cost-effective and reliable solution for their networking needs, according to Naramore.

And Cloud Router can be used in concert with Masergy's on-premise Managed Router service to optimize cost and performance specific to a customer's location and application environment, he said.