Stateless: Reinventing Cloud Interconnect for Data Centers


Spotlight on Data Center Innovations |

Boulder, US based Stateless is reinventing the way data center fabric is being used by its customers today. The company produces a solution called Luxon, which is a cloud native network interconnect platform that creates network functions such as routing, BGP, IPsec.

Zia Askari from interacts with Mike Anderson, VP of Marketing for Stateless and Tim Doherty, CEO of Digital Fortress about trends in solution centric networking segment how Digital Fortress has embraced Luxon solution from Stateless.

Stateless recently announced a deployment of its technology platform with Digital Fortress. Before diving in further, our readers would be interested in a short overview of the Luxon Solution Centric Networking (SCN) platform?

Mike Anderson (VP of Marketing for Stateless):

Stateless produces a solution called Luxon, which is a cloud native network interconnect platform that creates network functions such as routing, BGP, IPsec, netting, etc. Through software microservices, the platform is intended to be deployed on servers operating within the data center. From within those servers, companies like Digital Fortress can create networks that encompass a wide range of network functionality described here within minutes versus hours, days or even weeks. The main premise behind the creation of Luxon was to make the deployment of networks much simpler and significantly faster.

How does Luxon SCN advance the state of network connectivity over competitive solutions for companies like Digital Fortress?

Mike Anderson:

Think about all of the different endpoints that tenants inside data centers have to connect to now. These endpoints connect to their cage, racks as well as remote data centers. Digital Fortress operates six different data centers throughout the US and some of these tenants have resources in all of these different data centers. Some of these tenants might want to connect to public clouds or they might want to reach Software as a Service (SaaS) vendors. Each of those different endpoints, as we refer to them, includes its own network stack.

That means it’s a separate networking domain so it has a different IP addresses, different security rules that the user has to adhere to. So what Luxon does is it abstracts all of that complexity. From Luxon’s perspective, all of those different destinations are just endpoints that appear in the graphical user interface where the operator can easily and rapidly deploy the network functions needed to connect endpoints together. So that is our focus and why we built this platform.

As colocation operators like Digital Fortress become the center of digital transformation in the new digital world, these connections are being built inside their facilities. That is why Digital Fortress and Stateless are working together to help make this process easier.

How will Digital Fortress better serve its customers with the technology and what additional capabilities can the company provide with the platform?

Tim Doherty (CEO of Digital Fortress)

The data center is the Internet of Things ecosystem. It’s where the fiber and the power and the content meet and it creates peering exchanges or the transformation of information from one company to another. As we extend the tendrils of the ecosystem for our then licensees that buy our services it creates a more robust infrastructure for them, otherwise they need to build it themselves.

One of the things that’s coming about in the cloud is that people are finding that using it as a compute or storage resource is still an amazing opportunity for them. Stateless affords a tendril that goes out to privatized customer infrastructures supporting things like artificial intelligence. Stateless goes out to these infrastructures, including Azure, AWS, and Oracle, where people can buy a service.

Now, people are also finding that using bare metal as a service inside of the data center for primary compute, and only pushing up elasticity via this tendril becomes very effective on dollar spent in services. Running an IPsec service across the United States, which is what we’re doing now from our Piscataway, Seattle facility, Chicago and Denver facilities.

Many of those locations have the same subset of customers, allowing us to create a stickier environment for customers to stay with us rather than another company that has more locations and more services. As a result, we are able to expand the boundaries and confines of our walls with these tendrils of service.

Mike Anderson:

As Tim described the connectivity of the tendrils, they’re not just all going to Amazon or Azure. What’s taking over the world is not hyperscale exclusively, but hybrid, mixed environments. And that’s where, as Tim was describing, many of his tenants are consuming services — right on-premise inside the data center. However, some of these customers need to augment this with the public cloud and that’s not easy. The advantage we’re bringing to Digital Fortress is that we’re going to help them make this much simpler for their tenants.

Of the services provided, will cloud-native functions through micro-services be something the company will implement? If so, what sort of micro-service functionality would be offered over the next 12-18 months?

Yes, absolutely. The core functionality of the platform and how it operates is through micro services. The primary initial deployments, as Tim was referring to, will be around encryption, and IPsec. Inside the platform, there are capabilities for Digital Fortress to offer things like BGP as a service, if they choose to do so at some later time.

How does the technology and this new relationship expand the total addressable market or reach within new customer segments for either company?

Mike Anderson:

Stateless’ vision of creating this platform followed the opportunity for making the creation of network functions much simpler. Organizations do not need a router specifically, they need routing. And with the way the world is operating today, so many people think about interconnecting all of their different resources together as we’ve been talking about.The typical way of doing this is to purchase a router and firewall, along with load balancers and a lot of other expensive equipment. Our stance was to say no, that’s not the way to do these operations anymore. This can all be done with software.

From our perspective, the way we approach the market is to first work with data center operators. They’re right in the middle of everything that is going on. Our goal was to break into the data center market initially, gain some traction and then use that as a leaping off point to present the Stateless technology to enterprises.

Businesses operate inside data center providers similar to Digital Fortress. Because of this, Luxon receives exposure to the solution provider’s platform which many experts believe is a smart way to proceed. As a result, other data center providers will not want to be too far behind Digital Fortress as they move ahead. With this, we anticipate this will open the door for Stateless to expand into the enterprise

Tim Doherty:

We see certain market dynamics that have shifted in the retail colocation business over the last few years and even months. As an example, Equinix started as a peering exchange twenty plus years ago and was not in the data center business. As such, the original founders of Equinix wanted to do a peering exchange to create this community of interest where things would be handed off and they’ve now somewhat gone back to that. One of the most recent purchases by Equinix was Packet, who offers a bare metal automation platform, but with very high orchestration layers such as Kubernetes, Docker and other such items to create a realm where the cloud, colos, bandwidth, and transference of data converged.

One of the largest customers at Digital Fortress today is a very large publicly traded content delivery company. With this company, you can see the dynamics of how the model is shifting and the importance of data transference, as well as the mobility and scalability of that. One of the services that Stateless is going to and does provide us with is not just a singular linear on-ramp to one cloud provider, but the ability as a software defined network, to morph that connectivity to the product set and the provider in real time to facilitate the required needs.

So it’s fluidity and dynamic allocation which will define the value proposition of not only the data center, but the services they offer. Digital Fortress has been a BGP IP4 version 6.0 carrier-neutral data center for years with transit and transport. That is what has brought it success and why our largest customers sign and resign and they find the value — cold air, highly available power ups, etc. — it’s not Voodoo. Yet for the services that tie it all together, it’s a lot of hard work. You have to be an innovator in the front end of this — not trailing. So that’s why we see success in continually augmenting our solution set via companies like Stateless.

What will be the benefit to the Digital Fortress’ end customers using Luxon-enabled solutions?

Mike Anderson:

We’re doing a number of initial deployments that are focused on encryption and deploying that as a service, helping Digital Fortress reach and build those tendrils. In the future, we anticipate that we’ll be able to expand this further and deploy additional services. One of the things that we’re working on is fully automated interconnectivity to hyperscalers for those types of things that providers like Digital Fortress would be able to put in place. Once the platform is fully deployed, it will be fully controllable via an open REST API. We intend to partner with Digital Fortress and build fantastic services to really help tenants to quickly reach those endpoints.

Tim Doherty:

One of the measures that people have continually found, but don’t always start with, is to stay in their core competency and use it. A network or content service provider will do many things to deliver content using specific algorithms as they delve into line items that support their business, which may not be their core competency. One of the offerings that we’ve worked on are these anecdotal items as a service with SLAs to take that out of the hands of companies doing the compute, the content delivery, the manipulation of data, etc. and let them focus on their core competency.

We, of course, will do ours and have any number of companies that are among the Fortune 500 in addition to the smaller Telecoms we support. If we can take some of those items off their plate and deliver solutions at a higher SLA than they can do themselves and with a cost that is non-CAPX which can be heavy for many customers, allowing them to spend their dollars on the business. That’s why we rely heavily upon the Stateless-type innovators of the world to provide us with a best-of-breed service set. That is their core competency. Because we deliver a product to the customers, they use it and do not have to redefine — they just have to redefine us to help them deliver the product. It’s a symbiotic relationship.