NoviFlow, Inc.


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April 6, 2015 Issue

The Most Powerful Name In Corporate News and Information


Optimized Network Products and Solutions for Software Defined Networking


Dominique Jodoin

President & CEO


NoviFlow, Inc.


Interview conducted by:

Lynn Fosse, Senior Editor, CEOCFO Magazine, Published – April 6, 2015


CEOCFO: Mr. Jodoin, what is the concept behind NoviFlow?

Mr. Jodoin: Many of your readers are certainly aware of a major revolution going on right now in networking called Software Defined Networking, or SDN. NoviFlow’s view is that SDN is not just another protocol that adds complexity to already complicated routers and switches, but rather a vehicle to simplify switches, routers and network appliances by disaggregating them into separate forwarding, control and application planes. The benefits of doing this include greatly reduced networking CAPEX and OPEX, reduced vendor lock-in and probably more important in the long run, making the network much more flexible, responsive to change and easier to manage. The basic concept of NoviFlow is to create network products and solutions specifically optimized to deliver the benefits of Software Defined Networking.


CEOCFO: What part does NoviFlow play?

Mr. Jodoin: We are entirely focused on one specific component of the SDN architecture: the data plane, also sometimes called the forwarding plane. By focusing our efforts on the data plane, NoviFlow can deliver unequaled performance, scalability and programmability in a single package, essential for the deployment of SDN in today’s dynamic and fast growing market. NoviFlow is the high-performance forwarding plane for SDN!


CEOCFO: What do you understand about switches that perhaps others do not?

Mr. Jodoin: It is not that we understand switches better than others, but rather our choice of Network Processors chips, or NPUs, whose architecture is optimally well suited to deliver SDN solutions. Three years ago, when we founded the company, we got a fantastic head start: we could leverage the advanced research in SDN switches that had been carried out at one of the universities in Montreal. This university has been working for many years in collaboration with Stanford and others in doing research in SDN, and their switches were based on NPUs. As a consequence, less than six months after the founding of NoviFlow we launched our first commercial product, which was at the time the most advanced SDN switch in the market. Three years later, we are still the only company offering high performance SDN switches supporting the full OpenFlow 1.3 standard. Your readers might be familiar with ASIC based switches. Most traditional network switches use ASICs as their main forwarding plane technology because they provide a very high throughput, but at the cost of flexibility and programmability. NPUs, on the other hand, are designed specifically to not only process flows at very high rates, but also be programmable. That is why NPUs are used in most router and logic intensive network appliances. In our case, we have developed NPU software that is optimized for OpenFlow, which is why our switches’ performance is so superior to competitors’ switches based on either ASIC or X86 technologies, clearly distinguishing NoviFlow from our competitors in the market.


CEOCFO: Where are you today?

Mr. Jodoin: We are beyond the phase of initial prototypes and all of that. We now have sales over the last year that are in the seven digits. Now that the “first wave” of SDN is coming to an end, users of SDN technology such as Cloud providers, large enterprises and carriers, are starting to look for solutions that can scale in both capacity and function. Consequently, market demand is rapidly moving in direction of our products and our sales have really started to accelerate in the second half of 2014.


CEOCFO: How have they learned about you?

Mr. Jodoin: Our customers generally find out about NoviFlow via the web or through an SDN industry association called the Open Networking Foundation, which brings together over one hundred and fifty different companies, small and large, involved in SDN. We are also getting referrals and recommendations from our existing customers, as the SDN community is both tight knit and open to sharing information.


CEOCFO: What kinds of things might they be customizing at the other end?

Mr. Jodoin: That is a good question. For example, since our NPU firmware has the ability to not only process flows at the traditional L2 and L3 layers, but all the way up to L4-L7 layers, our switches can be used to much more sophisticated pre-processing of network packets as they enter a network or data center. This capability has been used to detect and prevent denial of service attacks, balance traffic based on packet payload contents such as GTP or DIAMETER protocol identifiers. Because of our choice of an NPU based substrate, the programmability features of our switches extend above and beyond the OpenFlow standard.


CEOCFO: You have got NoviSwitch, NoviWare and NoviConnect; what are the differences in what you are offering? What are the different levels, layers and types of products?

Mr. Jodoin: We offer software and hardware products. Our software product is called NoviWare, and we license this product to our OEM customers, who then port it to their hardware platforms. But we also sell complete switches, our NoviSwitch line, which comprise hardware and software, and can be operated with any controller and applications compliant with the OpenFlow 1.3/1.4 standard. Our customers include suppliers of networking equipment who have found it more economical and faster to license the OpenFlow software from NoviFlow rather than to develop it themselves. Then the third line of products we offer is NoviConnect, optical- or copper-based transceivers that are used to connect our switches to networking media such as optical fibers.


CEOCFO: Would you prefer people to buy the software? What is your model?

Mr. Jodoin: Not really. At the moment there are substantial opportunities for us in both licensing our software to OEMs and in selling our switches to end customers. Although the business models of these two are quite different, we are actually well positioned to address both. Who knows what the future holds for us? It might be that the industry really becomes a software licensing market, in which case our software licensing sales may increase faster than our sales of switches. However, for the moment we do not really mind as both.


CEOCFO: What is your geographic reach today?

Mr. Jodoin: Believe it or not, as is the case for many start-ups in the technology field, from day one we were selling to an international market. Today we have customers from far and wide including Australia and New Zealand, from Taiwan and Japan, from Europe and also from here in the US and Canada. We don’t yet see the same level of demand from Latin America, Eastern Europe or Africa, but I have no doubt that demand will come soon from these regions as networks transition to SDN everywhere.


CEOCFO: Do you need to maintain inventory or do you manufacture as needed?

Mr. Jodoin: We do maintain a certain level of inventory. But we outsource all hardware manufacturing to partners, allowing us to maintain a minimal inventory. That way our engineering resources can be focused on developing the best software in the market, and we make sure we source our hardware platform from the best suppliers in the market. This has been a very good formula for us.


CEOCFO: What has surprised you as you started to develop the concept and it is now out there?

Mr. Jodoin: What surprised me is how long it took for the industry to adopt SDN, and we are still only at the beginning of its adoption. One should never underestimate the ability of incumbent suppliers to use “Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt” to slow down the evolution to new technologies. We are talking about a major technology change here, and many CIOs and CTOs are justifiably cautious of “bleeding edge” technologies. However, it is becoming clear that SDN adoption fast accelerating. It is also surprising that NoviFlow is the only company that has succeeded in developing high performance OpenFlow products using NPUs. We have now built a significant lead in the market and we are very well positioned to win large orders in the coming months.


CEOCFO: What might be different a year from now at NoviFlow?

Mr. Jodoin: I think that a year from now we will probably be facing many challenges related to the fulfillment of orders from our customers. We are now engaged with around ten different Tier I companies completing various forms of proofs of concepts. Once any of these large customers decide to deploy SDN technology in a broad scale, you are talking about large numbers, so the demand for our product will likely go through a step function, which we are prepared to face.


CEOCFO: Why should people pay attention to NoviFlow? Why does the company standout?

Mr. Jodoin: I think your readers that are considering SDN would do well to keep an eye on NoviFlow! It is very likely that once they start to carry out their own SDN Proofs-of-Concepts they will quickly realize that many of their key use cases will require capabilities ASIC-based solutions cannot offer or scalability that X86-based SDN switches cannot deliver. At that point, or even before, it would make sense for them to contact NoviFlow and look into how our products can help them fulfill their plans. I think every CIO or CTO of a large enterprise, network service provider or carrier should have a good look at our value proposition, even if it is just to know which tough questions to ask their existing suppliers of networking gear. The SDN market is igniting already. We had a networking equipment vendor come to us recently and ask, “Look, can you help us? Our customers are screaming now for the type of equipment that you guys have in hand, and we are not going to be able to develop them in the time to make these sales. So could we license your software?” You would be surprised to hear the names of the large networking suppliers we are already working with. I believe this will only accelerate over the course of this year. So yes, people should pay attention at NoviFlow in the coming months!


“The basic concept of NoviFlow is to create network products and solutions specifically optimized to deliver the benefits of Software Defined Networking.” - Dominique Jodoin


NoviFlow, Inc.


Dominique Jodoin







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