Talari Seeks Channel Splash In WAN Optimization

Talari Networks on Monday expanded its family of Adaptive Private Networking (APN) products with a new appliance for midsized enterprise customers. It's the latest technology update to a portfolio that's announced Talari as a new, growing presence in the WAN optimization and data center channels -- and positioned it for a breakout 2011.

Talari does not describe itself as a WAN optimization or acceleration company. Its products, noted executives in a recent visit with CRN, are complementary to many existing WAN optimization deployments and data center environments.

The appeal of APN for WAN virtualization is that, according to Talari, it works similarly to how Redundant Array of Independent Disks (RAID) technology is used in storage. APN leverages RAID-like techniques, overlay networking and various algorithms to pull together multiple IP bandwidth sources to WAN connections, including DSL, cable and broadband.

By using less expensive public Internet sources along with MPLS or other private networks, the Talari technology makes the WAN more reliable, versus the use of other, more established ways of maximizing WAN capability such as Frame Relay and MPLS circuits. The Talari technology also measures jitter, loss, latency and bandwidth utilization continually, and the technology adjusts as needed to draw on the best available bandwidth sources.

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"We do more with QOS than any existing box," said Keith Morris, Talari vice president of marketing. "We know what the fastest packets are, and we can hit the destinations as fast as possible. Anyone that's got remote offices, especially if you have 10-plus remote offices and are international, the more money you can save."

David Lesser, president and CTO of Nexum, a Chicago-based solution provider, said Talari's positioning as a WAN op complement instead of another WAN op competitor is important to getting it noticed, as well as making sure the technology does what Talari says it can do.

"2010 was not an easy year. I think people are still trying to cut costs, realize return on investment and want to decrease expenses," Lesser said. "So anything you can do to increase reliability and decrease expenses in an environment like that is going to get a look."

Talari's new appliance, the Mercury T750, is aimed at mid-sized enterprises with up to 24 remote sites. Talari claims that enterprise WAN customers can up their bandwidth reliability by as much as 100 times -- and have a high level of application performance predictability -- while cutting monthly WAN service costs by as much as 90 percent.

Physically, the T750 is a 1U rack-mountable appliance supporting WAN bandwidth aggregation up to 120 Mbps downstream and 60 Mbps upstream, all while offering 128-bit AES encryption. It works with Talari's existing family of appliances -- the T730s for branch offices, T200s for small offices and home offices, and the T3000s for large data centers -- and runs the same APN software as the T3000 appliance in a smaller form factor.

The T750s are available starting Monday, with a suggested list price of $21,995, according to Talari.

Next: Talari Makes Its Pitch To The Channel

Based in Cupertino, Calif., Talari's story has drawn interest in the channel, and it already has caught on well in the investment community. Menlo Ventures led a $6.2 million round of funding in January 2009, and Talari secured another $10 million from a group led by Silver Creek Ventures in August 2010.

On the channel side, Talari sees at least 95 percent of the company's business going through partners. It expects to add training and certifications to its emerging channel program, which right now offers Gold and Silver levels of partnership.

"The sweet spot for this is the top end of medium-sized business," said Andy Gottlieb, Talari's CEO. "The value proposition is strong enough, and that ends up being a huge advantage for the channel partner."

"This is hard-dollar ROI: we'll save you money within the first year," added Morris. "Our single biggest challenge is getting people to try out our solutions. That's where the channel partners are becoming increasingly more valuable."

Talari ostensibly competes with established WAN optimization and acceleration players like Riverbed, Blue Coat and Cisco, but is also a complement, Talari executives note, because APN can work with existing data center and WAN environments from all of those vendors.

While the company had few channel victories to show for itself a year ago, it caught the attention of several partners in 2010 thanks to good buzz and strong channel leadership.

Tom Pettigrew, the former F5 Networks vice president of global channels and emerging markets, joined Talari in November 2009 as vice president of worldwide sales. It was Pettigrew's involvement that spurred him to investigate Talari further, said Nexum's Lesser, and he liked what he saw.

"Tom's giving it his backing, and coming from a company as visionary as F5, that's important," he said. "They're in the very nascent phases with their appliances, but this is still very intriguing."

Lesser said he liked what he'd seen so far from Talari's program, and that the company's attitude toward solution providers would help it earn greater notices this year.

"They need to continue to focus on the program itself, but there are some nice discounts, and Tom's taken in what he learned from F5 and started to apply that," Lesser said. "Their sales are not that much yet, but they're acting like a big boy."