Published on October 8, 2019
ElastaLink is an Ottawa-based communication, networking and infrastructure service provider. Since their founding in 2015, they have developed a team of nearly 40 employees and now provide services to over 300 customers. Their client base includes all types of organizations with a special focus on retail businesses, manufacturing companies, healthcare providers, non-profits and hospitals. Recently, ElastaLink started developing software defined networking (SDN) services through a multi-tenant offering, with the aim of making this technology more accessible for smaller businesses. ElastaLink has begun a CENGN project in order to scale test their multi-tenant SDN solution.
Why is SDN Important?
In a traditional network, a control plane resides within each router and switch. Having controllers spread through your physical infrastructure is cumbersome for network operators as they cannot easily provision resources and control how data flows through the network.
An SDN solution uses one platform as the control plane to manage many routers in a network. This gives network operators more power over their network, as all the control is within one centralized space. The control plane tells the other routers how to manage their loads, making the network more efficient and easier to administrate. As SDN keeps all the intelligence of the routers in one place, it allows the network to move faster, and it removes single points of failure on the network. As an added bonus, it gives the clients an easy to understand high-level view of their network and reduces the required network administration.
Adoption and investments in SDN are charted for mass growth over the next few years. IDC estimates that the worldwide data centre SDN market will be worth more than $12 billion in 2022. In fact, this growth has already been increasing rapidly with a market generated revenue of nearly $5.15 billion in 2017, up more than 32.2% from 2016. (Networking World Magazine, April 2019)
However, SDN controllers are expensive and require dedicated hardware and knowledgeable resources to operate. These are costs that are prohibitive to most small and medium enterprises (SMEs), making SDN technology somewhat inaccessible to these businesses. This is where ElastaLink comes in.
Working with Growing Canadian Businesses
ElastaLink offers multiple services to SMEs including Internet, email, phones, managed routing, Web development and hosting, backups and security planning, plus wireless networks. The company now plans to bring the advantages of SDN to its SME customers. ElastaLink has developed an integrated, multi-tenant SDN solution utilizing its existing ElastaLink Edge router at the CPE edge and a new multi-tenant SDN controller operating from the Cloud. Services, including load balancing, security, voice, video and email, will be offered from the ElastaLink data centres, customized and scaled for the SME market and delivered via the ElastaLink Edge Router. Most customer networking equipment already supports OpenFlow protocol and SDN.
It is the company’s aim to provide the under-served SME market with the advantages of an SDN solution, at an acceptable price point. With a multi-tenant SDN offering, SMEs can rent a piece of ElastaLink’s SDN solution to enable enhanced network management services, security, flexibility and cost-effective service evolution, for a fraction of the cost of running their own SDN controller.
Path Towards Commercialization
With the SDN product developed, ElastaLink now needs to ensure all the features of the SDN network can be fully functional at scale, as well as understand the size and number of clients that can be supported on one SDN controller. To do this, the company is carrying out a CENGN project that will provide the infrastructure and support they require to move their offering closer to market.
Utilizing CENGN’s commercial grade infrastructure has major benefits for an already active company like ElastaLink. As ElastaLink’s infrastructure is currently being used to support its existing customers, CENGN is providing ElastaLink with a risk-free isolated testing environment. Not only does this remove the setup time of building its own test environments, this will also allow ElastaLink to keep their current infrastructure and resources committed to their customers.
Building the Test Environment
ElastaLink’s project space will be provisioned with one bare metal server, which will support 4 virtual machines (VMs) running the ElastaLink SDN solution, as well as a Cloud tenancy supporting 120 VMs to simulate routers, with an additional 30 physical routers distributed across multiple sites outside the testing environment. Throughout the project, ElastaLink will be leveraging CENGN’s technical expertise to validate the system performance of the new SDN solution while managing an incremental increase of both physical and simulated routers. CENGN’s infrastructure will put ElastaLink in a position to perform detailed performance testing and upon successful completion of the project, they will have the validation needed to establish credibility and readiness for launch.
Here at CENGN, we are happy to deliver our services to a promising Canadian business that also looks to support the growth and success of small and medium-sized businesses.
Stay tuned to see the results of this project!
ElastaLink is a growing Canadian business that is using the services at CENGN through the Next Generation Network Program (NGNP). The NGNP is a Government of Ontario program offered through a partnership between CENGN and the Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE) that is providing small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) across Ontario access to the CENGN Testbed. CENGN’s digital infrastructure is connecting SMEs like ElastaLink to state-of-the-art equipment and network services, which will allow these companies to test and validate their solutions.
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