Fastrack goes virtual for networking

NFV underpins cloud growth for IT services firm

Network function virtualization (NFV), particularly in the form of virtual routers, has played a key role in underpinning the cloud services delivered by Sydney-headquartered Fastrack Technology, according to the company's commercial director, Nathan Nogic.

The company, which also has an office in Melbourne, was founded in 2009 Yoni Kirsh.

"We initially started life as a Microsoft services partner specialising in consulting around infrastructure solutions, primarily to the ASX 100," said Nogic.

"We've moved from almost an exclusively consulting-based company to one that this year had about 65 per cent of our revenue associated with multi-year and recurring revenue streams and largely based off Office 365, Azure and ongoing infrastructure services."

"We've been growing at about 75 per cent year-on-year for the last three years and still specialising very much in that Microsoft and managed services and cloud space," Nogic said.

The IT services firm's use of virtual routers (it's running Brocade's Vyatta 5400 and 5600 vRouters in a number of environments) is a product of the increase in Fastrack's cloud business.

One of the underlying challenges with the growth in cloud is network bandwidth bottlenecks, Nogic said.

"One of the things we realised very quickly was our existing investment in hardware-based routing and hardware-based connectivity devices was very severely limited by a couple of things," Nogic said.

One of the key ones was capital expenditure on networking gear.

"The cost to deliver services on existing platforms was significant to the point where upgrading to the scale we were looking at and being able to provide 10 gigabit+ connectivity into Azure and Office 365 meant that either we had to cut our R&D budget back or our staffing, Nogic said.

"Neither of which, as a small-to-medium business, was something that we were very keen on doing."

"So really, the Vyatta engagement came a couple of years ago, out of looking at what other models can we take to market to move away from that capital-based engagement," he said.

Switching to Vyatta delivered benefits "from a performance, cost and feature perspective," he said. Having an ongoing relationship with Brocade has also been a positive, he added.

"That's really been a key difference for us — a vendor relationship versus what we would have got out of just buying a pure technology platform."

Fastrack initially started deploying Brocade switching around two years ago.

"As we saw the evolution in that Vyatta product and the acquisition of it by Brocade, that got rolled into some of our R&D about six to nine months ago and has been in production now for the better part of three to four months, serving some fairly high capacity customers," Nogic said.

NFV and software-defined networking (SDN) "both of those form an integral part of our strategy in terms of quick and easy on-boarding, with very low manual effort [being] required to get customers on board," Nogic said.

"Our initial challenge was — as a challenger brand, as a small-to-medium business — it's very difficult to invest a huge amount of money in people and capital [expenses]. With the Brocade equipment, particularly with the ability to bring it on line in minutes and have it connected and serving up content and configured with a very low-level of manual interaction, is essential."