Kaloom bows programmable data center fabric to increase automation

Kaloom's family of virtual switches, fabric and routers are designed to virtualize data centers. (Kaloom)

Startup vendor Kaloom announced today the general availability of its Software Defined Fabric (SDF) product family that was designed to automate and virtualize data centers.

Kaloom says its SDF family, which includes its software-defined fabric, virtual router, virtual switch and virtual gateway, works with open networking white boxes in order to reduce capex while its automation capabilities reduce opex and cut down on deployment and configuration errors.

"We see a strong need for doing something more bottom up with the networking fabric where the switches self-discover and self-provision themselves in a network," said Kaloom's Thomas Eklund, vice president of marketing and strategy, in an interview with FierceTelecom. "We also see a strong need for introducing programmability."

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Eklund said that, to date, automation in data centers has been very labor intensive and error prone as employees spend a lot of time writing configurations. By contrast, the Kaloom SDF portfolio has self-forming and self-discovery capabilities. It also features zero-touch provisioning of virtual networks and virtual components via automated software upgrades.

The fabric software, which was designed for use by data center operators, cloud providers, telcos, enterprises and the gaming industry, uses the P-4-based programming capabilities of Barefoot Networks' Tofino chipset, according to Kaloom CTO Suresh Krishnan.

Similar to software-defined networking, Kaloom offloads data plane functions from virtual machines and containers, which delivers an increase in throughput of up to 2x with a reduction in latency of 7x over conventional switches.

"We believe that bringing programmability is a strong need both on the telco side and as well as for a lot of the hyperscale companies," Eklund said. "When we were working on this we saw that many people are leveraging white boxes and we see a strong need there for really having an industrialized offering for white boxes to drive down the cost."

Kaloom is working with white box vendors Accton, Delta and Foxconn on deployments for distributed data center environments. Eklund said additional white-box vendors will be announced a later date.

Kaloom's SDF interfaces with standard orchestration systems and SDN controllers such as OpenDaylight (using NETCONF), OpenStack (ML2), and Kubernetes (CNI.)

Kaloom's SDF is also able to create isolated network slices. A physical data center can be partitioned into multiple, independent and fully isolated virtual data centers with each operating in its own virtual fabric. Networking slicing is a key element of enabling various services and applications in 5G, but Krishnan said it could also be used in gaming, enterprise and hyperscale environments.

"You see a strong need in the gaming industry to have isolation between the different games that the host can provide to its customers," he said.

Kaloom is offering its SDF product in a "pay-as-you-grow" model that features subscription licenses. With the pay-as-you-grow model, Kaloom customers pay only for the active number of customer-facing ports that they are using.

With its SDF offerings, which have been beta tested by unnamed companies, Kaloom is competing against incumbent router and switch vendors Cisco and Juniper Networks as well as newer companies such as Big Switch Networks, Cumulus and Pluribus Networks.

Kaloom to increase headcount

Kaloom was founded in 2014 by CEO Laurent Marchand and funded two years later. Kaloom's investors include Fonds FTQ and Somel Investments. Eklund said that Kaloom has raised $10.7 million to date and that the company anticipates more rounds of funding.

Kaloom, which is based in Montreal and has an office in Santa Clara. Calif., currently has 66 employees but will grow to more than 100 employees by year's end.

RELATED: Linux Foundation introduces the LF Networking Fund, harmonizes open source, open standards

Kaloom is a "silver" member of the Linux Foundation and also participates in the Linux Foundation's LF Networking (LFN) umbrella, which includes open source communities such as OpenDaylight, ONAP and OPNFV. Kaloom is also a member of the Cloud Native Computing Foundation, which recently announced a partnership with LFN.