Legacy Networking Throwdown: Nile Launches AI Networking Services Platform

'We are using AI in more creative ways to solve real problems that the industry is facing like doing site surveys in a more automated fashion and zero touch configurations, which prevents many network outages,’ says Nile Vice President of Worldwide Channels Vivek Khemani.

Nile, the next-gen networking services platform provider backed by former Cisco CEO John Chambers, is launching a full-fledged AI services platform with AI applications aimed at automating network design, configuration and management.

The Nile AI architecture includes the Nile Services Cloud, which includes AI-based network design; the Nile Service Blocks, which automates network deployment including access point configuration and Nile Copilot and Nile Autopilot applications for AI-based network monitoring and operations.

Nile Vice President of Worldwide Channels Vivek Khemani said the networking services disruptor was built from the ground up with AI and machine learning and is now putting its AI capabilities front and center with the new services offerings.

“We are using AI in more creative ways to solve real problems that the industry is facing like doing site surveys in a more automated fashion and zero touch configurations, which prevents many network outages” said Khemani (pictured above).

The net result is a reduction in total cost of enterprise network ownership for customers amounting to as much as 60 percent, said Khemani. That translates into a customer payback on the next gen Nile networking services investment in less than three years.

Nile has even built a cloud-based tool that allows customers to calculate ROI based on their current networking installation and operational overhead.

On the partner side of the equation, partners are making 1.5 to 2 times more margin dollars combining the reduced cost of design, installation and the margin associated with the sale of the service along with managed services attach versus traditional network providers, said Khemani.

In a prepared statement, Chambers, a board member and co-founder of Nile, said that what Nile “understands that the rest of the industry has missed is that AI cannot be an incremental addition” to an existing architecture.

“In order to truly reap the benefits of the biggest technology shift we have ever seen – bigger than the Internet and cloud combined – companies need a new architecture, one built from the ground up to fully leverage AI,” said Chambers.

Nile had 300 percent growth in 2023 in a market that was otherwise flat, said Chambers. “That momentum, combined with the team at Nile and their healthy financial resources, puts Nile on a trajectory for massive success and future leadership,” he said.

Partners, for their part, said the AI services advancements from Nile represent a major step forward in the use of AI to deliver a better network experience for customers.

“This is a massive scale opportunity for partners,” said Vinu Thomas, chief operating officer of Driven Technologies, a next generation AI and automation focused solution provider. “Nile is providing 25 times faster response, the ability to eliminate network performance issues and zero trust security compliance. This is definitely a game-changing announcement.”

Thomas said he sees Nile as the network equivalent of AWS, which pioneered the cloud computing revolution. “AWS came in and offered compute and storage as a service,” he said. “But AWS stopped at the campus network. Nile is for the first time providing an AWS-like capability for the campus network. Nile has designed an entire campus network – wired and wireless- where the customer pays as you go with defined SLAs (service level agreements).”

The Nile AI tools and sensors make it easier to design and deliver better network performance, said Thomas. The old network model is simply more complex and capital intensive, he said “Nile just eliminates so many layers of complexity and IT troubleshooting tickets. It provides no touch software maintenance with automatic updates so customers don’t have to worry about updating an access controller or access point. Nile is providing a truly integrated, best of breed solution as a service with SLAs and a zero trust architecture.”

The Nile model provides robust incentives with the ability for partners to build in their own managed services, said Thomas. “We love the fact that they are 100 percent channel,” he said.

Don James, Jr., the CEO of BEARCloud, a next-generation cloud solution provider, said he expects Nile’s AI capabilities to accelerate already strong sales of the Nile networking service.

“We’re excited about these AI enhancements,” he said. “AI is a freight train running down the tracks. It’s great to see Nile putting its best AI foot forward. This is going to accelerate Nile sales for us. There is no question about that. Customers want the latest and greatest, and the traditional network providers don’t have a concise story in the AI space. I see the Nile advances in technology – especially around AI- getting them a seat at the table with more companies.”

BEARCloud, for its part, has closed five Nile deals in the last six months with the robust Nile channel program providing double digit margins. BEARCloud offers its own BEARCare Network Operations Center (NOC) managed services to monitor and manage those networks.

Among the BEARCloud wins was a recent three-year deal with a financial securities firm with about 200 users that replaced a Cisco network with the Nile service, said James.

The starting point of the Nile AI portfolio is the Nile Services Blocks, which provides automated configuration of the Nile access points, access switches, distribution switches and network sensors, said Khemani.

“We have removed configuration completely,” said Khemani. “I came from the traditional networking world where we had a 1,500 page deployment guide for every situation and scenario for deploying this technology. In our case, we ship this product with zero documentation. We don’t need it because we don’t require configuration. We have a zero-configuration requirement. The equipment comes preconfigured out of the box with all of these pieces working together with each other. All you need to do is provide gateways to connect to the core network and it works flawlessly.”

The second piece of the AI platform is the Nile Services Cloud which leverages AI to automate site surveys, design and installation for optimal network performance. The Nile Services Cloud includes smart agents with real time data collection; “cognitive decisions” capabilities aimed at automating networking best practices; zero trust security with edge to cloud connectivity with defense hub and digital twin, a virtual replica of the Nile Service Block.

The Nile Services Cloud also includes Nile Copliot AI to monitor service outcomes and to securely onboard users and IoT (internet of things) devices and Nile Autopilot for network management including automated security patching, software updates and troubleshooting.

The AI-based Copilot user onboarding and Autopilot network management eliminates a lot of the network administration

“From a partner perspective it makes it easy for them to deploy,” said Khemani. “It makes it easy for partners to design networks. It takes the guess work out of the design by standardizing the network…They no longer have to worry about outages, downtime, or the impact to their SLAs.”

The legacy networking providers have architectures that are 20 or more years old in a market that is moving at the “speed of light,” said Khemani. “From an AI standpoint it is very hard for these (legacy) vendors to be able to integrate all of those (AI) differences and updates into the three or four architectures they are running today.”

In fact, Khemani compared the plight of the legacy networking providers in an AI era to a traditional auto maker trying to convert a traditional car into a self-driving autonomous vehicle.

“We started with a blank slate and ended up removing about 80 percent of the things that cause complexity (in enterprise networks),” he said. “Our architecture is primarily built for service delivery from the ground up versus traditional architectures which are built mainly for a network IT admin.”