Mar 13, 2018

Yahoo Japan Deploys Apstra

logo_yahoo_japan_400x100.pngSolving customer problems is our top priority at Apstra®. We live and breathe our customers and customer success is a goal we’re extremely passionate about. Apstra has generated revenue globally since 2016, and while we have hundreds of nodes in production it is with excitement and pride that we share today a very special customer case study: Yahoo Japan Corporation .

I am particularly excited about Yahoo Japan Corporation because they have been a great partner to Apstra, working with us since last year when they deployed AOS® in production. Yahoo Japan Corporation is among the most innovative, technologically capable and credible companies anywhere. For those in the US that are not familiar with Yahoo Japan Corporation, they are the largest Internet provider in Japan and also hold the following leadership positions in Japan:

  • Stronger than Google in search and mail
  • Stronger than eBay in auction
  • Stronger than Netflix in video
  • Stronger than PayPal in financial payments

By all measures, they’re a webscale company; and like other webscales, they’re seeing an explosion in their traffic growth. For this reason, they have built their data centers using the same state-of-the-art principles the hyperscales have adopted:

  • A leaf spine Clos design, which accommodates large amounts of East-West traffic, which is essential to support today’s web applications
  • A multi-hardware vendor strategy, leveraging both established hardware vendors (Arista, Cisco), and open alternatives (Cumulus and OCP hardware)
  • Major investments in automation and analytics for efficient scalable operations.

DIY, Hardware Lock-In, or Apstra


Like other webscale companies, Yahoo Japan Corporation embraced a disaggregated approach, separating the hardware, choice of Network Operating System, and automation layer. If you’re going to the OCP Summit next week, you’ll hear more about these best practices and we look forward to seeing you there. In their search for the right operational model for their data center network, Yahoo Japan Corporation had three options:

  1. Use the automation software provided by the hardware vendor. Yahoo Japan Corporation concluded quickly that this approach didn’t work for them because of their multi-vendor strategy.
  2. Build it themselves – after all, if anyone can build the automation software, it would be Yahoo Japan Corporation, given their industry leading technological acumen.
  3. Use Apstra AOS, which is the only multi-vendor solution that would enable them to automate their entire processes involved in designing, building, and operating their data center networks – day 0, day 1, and day 2+.

Yahoo Japan Corporation investigated DIY and Apstra extensively, and decided against hiring a large team, at a high cost over many years to deliver such a critical undertaking and selected and deployed Apstra’s AOS as the first commercial automation software ever deployed in the company’s network.

Through this process, they also realized that they really didn’t have to choose between Build and Buy. In working with us closely, they concluded that we had built an extensible platform that they could rely on and develop around — and in the process, integrate AOS into their environment to meet their requirements.

Indeed, by adopting AOS, Yahoo Japan Corporation got access to all of the capabilities Apstra has built into our solution — capabilities they didn’t have to build themselves or integrate — and that they immediately were able to leverage in production. Amongst those capabilities:

  • A highly scalable distributed data store
  • Abstractions that capture user intent
  • A graph representation of all intent and infrastructure state, which captures in real-time all the relationships between objects, e.g. user intent, topology, physical elements (including switches, interfaces, transceivers, links), logical elements (virtual networks, security zones), and telemetry
  • Extensible telemetry agents that can extract telemetry across platforms
  • Device drivers across various vendor devices used to both configure, and extract telemetry from these devices
  • Comprehensive design tools that architecture teams can use to design data center PODs in a matter of minutes
  • Comprehensive build tools to stand up PODs in minutes
  • A continuous validation engine that generates anomaly alerts in real-time anytime infrastructure state deviates from intent
  • Intent-Based Analytics™, an integrated big data pipeline that enables the user to configure signatures pertaining to how they’d like their network to run in a matter of minutes
  • An intuitive Web interface that one can use to design, build, deploy, and operate these networks with unmatched simplicity.

Furthermore, given the unmatched extensibility of the Apstra solution, and its programmatic nature, they could leverage our APIs, streaming interfaces, graph queries, plugin modules, and other methods to extend the platform and integrate it within their environment.

Yahoo Japan Corporation recognized that the DIY path is not a one-time investment but a forever internal commitment to keep up with best-of-breed and best practices that is the sole mission and life blood of Apstra.

The company also recognized  that we’re building features at record speed – in their words, “Apstra’s feature velocity is unmatched, and a huge differentiator.” In standardizing on Apstra, they are riding along with us on the journey, benefiting from all the features and capabilities that we’ll be adding to our platform.

Hardware lock-in versus DIY – you no longer have to choose

In our engagements with customers and prospects – webscales, but also service providers and large enterprises, it is clear that many organizations are facing the same choice:

Choice 1: Should I use the software that’s provided by a hardware vendor?

Choice 2: Or should I build my automation and analytics software myself to avoid vendor lock-in?

Both choices are flawed. With Choice 1, hardware-vendor provided software will lock an organization into that hardware vendor and it is exceedingly hard to pursue a dual-vendor strategy. How can you believe that switch vendor C would support switch vendor A’s hardware even if vendor C claims so, when A is C’s most feared competitor?

Yet most customers I talk to want at least two hardware vendors in their data centers.

And with Choice 2, this approach is fraught with danger and risk.  I’ve seen organizations spend $20M over 2 years investing in DIY and get nowhere. DIY requires the ability to hire dozens of top software engineers, and have them focused on building the solution from the ground up. As important, DIY requires the ability to retain those top engineers so they are able to support the solution they’ve built over many years. To quote Tsvi Gal, CTO at Morgan Stanley, at a recent ONUG event, “the worst vendor lock-in is our own … We are basically locked into our own environment.”

Yahoo Japan Corporation and our other customers have shown that there is now a much better path – a choice that was not available to Facebook when they built out their automation solution. With Apstra AOS, you have the full range of hardware vendors to choose from for your dual-vendor strategy, and can avoid lock-in. Yet in doing so, you don’t have to build and retain a world leading development team to reinvent the wheel and recreate an integrated solution that enables a fully automated operational model. And, you can focus your management and development talent on areas that are strategic to your business.

Onwards and upwards


In closing, I would like to thank Kenya Murakoshi and Yahoo Japan Corporation for being a great partner to Apstra. The aspect I enjoy the most in the process of building companies is working with like-minded innovators and early-adopters who “get it”. We are committed to our customers, and especially our early adopters’ success, and look forward to a long term relationship with Yahoo Japan Corporation . You can read more about Yahoo Japan Corporation ’s deployment of AOS in this case study or press release or join a webinar about Yahoo Japan Corporation’s  data center network plan.

I would also like to invite organizations that are looking to build new data center networks, and are faced with the hardware-specific versus DIY conundrum, to try Apstra. We provide risk-free try-and-buy programs so you can experience the power of a hardware inclusive intent-based operational model. You can download a data sheet,  schedule a demo, or schedule a 1:1 with us at OCP.

Mansour Karam

President, Founder