Big Data

Intent-based networking startup Gluware secures $43M to automate repetitive tasks

Gluware, a company developing network automation tools for cloud environments, today announced that it raised $43 million in funding led by Bain Capital with participation from Acadia Woods Partners and existing investors. The mix of debt and equity — which values the company “well into the nine figures,” according to a source — will go toward scaling the company’s sales and marketing teams and product R&D, according to CEO Jeff Gray.

It’s estimated that networking practitioners spend up to 55% of their time and resources on repetitive equipment management tasks. According to Cisco, around 95% of network-related tasks are performed manually, causing operational costs of around 2 to 3 times more than the cost of the network. That’s why an increasing number of companies are turning to automation, which promises to free up IT teams while potentially reducing expenses. A 2019 survey found that nearly two-thirds of companies plan to deploy systems that will help them analyze network issues using automation and AI.

“The network … market is complex and fragmented, with legacy tools that cater to highly bespoke static configurations, small-scale single-vendor solutions, or do-it-yourself coding approaches that require significant resources. These approaches break under the scale, scope, and complexity of modern enterprise networks,” Gray told VentureBeat via email.

Founded in 2007 by Gray and Olivier Huynh Van as Glue Networks, Gluware offers a code-free, intent-based networking service for enterprise organizations. This design supports network equipment audits while helping to identify network changes, patch multivendor devices, and perform error checks and automatic remediation. (Intent-based networking, an emerging software category, deals with the planning and deployment networks that can improve availability, providing lifecycle management for infrastructure.)

Gray and Van met in London working for a managed service provider, where they developed an engine capable of automating Cisco-specific wide area networks, local area networks, datacenter, and cloud environments to reduce outages. This became the cornerstone of Gluware’s platform, which eventually expanded to support to multivendor, multi-domain network automation.

“Mounting pressure is forcing businesses to address manually induced outages, security breaches, failed audits, and the inability to provide network services to lines of business on required timelines. Yet, the magnitude and heterogeneity of the network automation problem make it harder to tackle than the markets above. The software layer needed to solve the network automation problem must automate any enterprise network design, any vendor, any device, and any custom configuration,” Gray said. “Gluware’s software acts as a robot network engineer in the cloud and engages in intelligent two-way communication with the most sophisticated network devices, keeping them in compliance and maintaining them in a safe and predictable manner.”

Automating network tasks

Gluware, with Fortune 500 and Global 2000 customers like Mastercard and Terracon, automatically turns running network configurations into policy. This keeps devices up to date with software upgrade orchestration. The company claims its discovery engine can index and inventory multivendor networks of almost any size, completed with a programmatic interface architected to integrate into third-party platforms via an API.

One Gluware customer — Merck — claims to have cut the time spent on global network configuration changes by 98%. Before adopting Gluware, Merck took up to nine months to manually tune its cloud applications.

“Gluware understands network configurations at a per character resolution level, abstracts the myriad configurations into overall data-model-driven policies, and maintains historical knowledge of every configuration change,” said Gray, who added that the company’s next phase of development will focus on AI capabilities such as robotic process automation to deliver “self-operating, self-remediating” networks for customers. “With the advent of Gluware’s data collection AI and machine learning platform and application, Gluware [will have] an unfair advantage in determining if the change was a good change or a bad change, providing recommended changes to IT, and delivering on self-operating use cases.”

The datacenter automation segment is expected to rise from $3.16 billion in 2014 to $7.53 billion in 2019, according to a Markets and Markets report. And the  industry remains red-hot, as evidenced by Juniper Networks’ purchase of intent-based networking startup Apstra last December. Gartner predicts automation of 60% of datacenter networking configuration activities, up from 30% in early 2020.

As for 61-employee Gluware, the company says it’s on track for 400% annual recurring revenue growth this year. To date, Gluware has raised $90 million in total capital.

“The pandemic has made Gluware automation a must-have. Network automation has increased in value since the start of the pandemic, as IT staff need more remote management and zero-touch provisioning capabilities, the ability to make changes with confidence for new traffic patterns to manage work from home initiatives, and the need to extend the life of current network infrastructure during supply chain disruptions,” Gray said. “Customers that implemented Gluware on their production networks have found tens of thousands of hidden security violations, hundreds of unapproved operating system versions, and dangerous network misconfigurations — all of which have caused or have the potential to cause major network outages or security events, resulting in loss of business continuity.”

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