From the CEO’s Personal Diary: Cloud Is the New Network OS

Praveen Jain, Founder/CEO at WiteSand

The spark for networking started when I won a prestigious award for connecting all the computers in the lab at our university with my own software. That passion led to landing my dream job in Silicon Valley at Cisco HQ in 1996.

Over the years, as complexity increased in networking, apart from new innovation, two primary themes kept repeating: consolidation and redefining the network OS.

Being part of Cisco, I first witnessed how independent networks were consolidated by virtually separating them in a single switch using VLANs. The switches at that time were run by an embedded OS due to the constraints of CPU, memory, and disk.

While we launched Catalyst 6K as the premier platform for enterprise switching, the adjacent SAN (Storage Area Network) market was seeking the same consolidation. Among many innovations, VLANs were translated to VSANs by Andiamo Systems. But this was the time to redefine the network OS with Linux. This was the first time we let go of a tight loop OS with a general purpose OS for networking and branded it as NXOS.

As the market matured, LANs and SANs were independently operating, and we could clearly see the opportunity to consolidate the two together in a single switch as well as a single NIC on servers. We launched Cisco UCS as part of Nuova Systems, which was loaded with numerous innovations. And it was time yet again to redefine the role of an OS. A new layer was defined – the UCS manager – which could automate the entire lifecycle of many moving parts such as NIC, BIOS, Disk, BMC, and network switches, bringing them together as a well-oiled machine.

Our next challenge was to map this progress back to the data center networks, consolidating an “allow-list model for security,” overlays, and many other use cases. This was our company Insieme Networks, which ultimately became Cisco ACI. SDN was the vehicle to solve this new challenge and, as such, the OS was again redefined to be an APIC controller which could manage, apply policies, and oversee the network.

After these positive entrepreneurial experiences in the data center with products still doing multiple billions in revenue today, we felt drawn to solve a different problem. This newer challenge was tied to enterprise networking. Apart from new innovations, it was time again for consolidation. There will be much more to say about that at our launch of WiteSand on June 28.

Over the years, one thing kept bugging us: needing to be able to see past the state of the network for faster issue resolution. We always wanted to build a “network DVR” to serve this function. We did make some progress but were largely limited by appliances. Also, general purpose cloud analytics tools did not have enough context to give our networking customers the correlation they needed.

We choose SaaS to be the vehicle to solve this next problem. Here at WiteSand, we are convinced that cloud is the new network operating system.

This is the place to consolidate all your on-prem enterprise network appliances. This is the place to do boundless analytics. This is the single place to enforce zero trust policies in the network. And this is the single place to manage your worldwide locations.

We invite you to the WiteSand Launch on Monday June 28 at 11:00 a.m. Pacific/2:00 p.m. Eastern where you can learn more about our innovations, our consolidation, and the industry’s first Network Time Machine. We can’t wait to show you what we have created.

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