Network security vendor Savvius expands into Australian market

A distribution deal with InTechnology will see the Savvius' products rolled out across NSW, Queensland, and Victoria.

Network security vendor Savvius has announced its expansion into Australia and New Zealand, through a distribution deal with InTechnology.

The 25-year-old company -- which rebranded from WildPackets to Savvius in 2015, coinciding with its push into the security space -- offers software and appliance products that capture network traffic, apply analytics to network packets, assemble the results into actionable insights for troubleshooting, and support forensic analysis.

"Anyone can catch traffic, but being able to make it useful to the network administrator requires the analytics and then the software to present it in combination," Larry Zulch, CEO of Savvius, told ZDNet on Wednesday.

"The external perspective on applications is the critical one in our view. You can look at what inputs are going into that application server, what response the applications make, and see very quickly not only whether there's a problem, but also where in that interaction, back and forth, the problem may exist.

"There are very few broad network software analytics products out there ... there's not a lot of attention being paid to it but it's an area we care a great deal about."

Savvius recently launched a product called Spotlight that automatically creates "higher-level metadata" on network traffic. Zulch said this capability is a "useful precursor" to using artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning algorithms in the future.

"We think the product will be extremely useful for training AI type applications for identifying network issues," Zulch said.

"But I have to say, at this point, there's no substitute for a person with some background in networking being able to look at the situation and follow it through to its logical conclusion.

"The companies that we know are applying machine learning to networking are seeing that [the technology is] at early stages at best. That includes Cisco with their Tetration product, which is in some ways a larger scale version of our Savvius Spotlight product, but has the machine learning component, which Spotlight does not have."

Zulch admitted that Spotlight currently assembles information in a way that is only useful for humans, and that it will require "a modest amount of incremental development to start being useful for AI".

"If you look across all the traffic, you actually have to start associating it with other factors than what can be discerned strictly from the network traffic itself. So that's one of the areas where Spotlight has made some progress -- by presenting the worst performing portions of the network to the network administrator and then letting them drill into it," Zulch said.

But he believes the company is well-positioned to take advantage of AI and machine learning, saying that the problem with applying such technologies at this stage centres on data -- specifically, feeding the right data into the machines.

"A modern network may have a million different two-way flows or conversations going on simultaneously," Zulch said.

"There are so many false positives, so many opportunities for AI to have trouble discerning between the parts to pay attention to and the parts not to pay attention to that we're going to need to see some more refinements in the analytics that power the AI.

"It isn't that the AI is incapable of doing that discerning if they have the right information as input into the process. But that will change and we intend to be at the forefront of that change."

Zulch said Savvius' products are best suited to large enterprises, though medium-size enterprises are also in the company's radar. At present, its customers predominantly come from the finance, government, healthcare, and education sectors.

On why the company decided to boost its presence in the Australian market, Zulch said Australians are "famous for being very demanding technology adopters" and that Savvius is well-positioned to meet the high standards of the market.

He added that InTechnology was the right distribution partner for the company due its compatibility with the other vendors it represents.

"People aren't buying individual products anymore, if they ever were ... they have to get their products across multiple vendors. So the relationship we have with InTechnology will allow us to fit in with other products in their line card," Zulch said.

Through its agreement with InTechnology, Savvius will also be rolling out its PartnerOne Program in Australia, offering complementary network solutions to companies that already use traditional and cloud-based appliances from vendors such as Cisco, Gigamon, and IBM.

Savvius' other technology alliance partners include Aruba, Checkpoint, Datacom, Fortinet, HPE, Procera, and Meru, among others.

Moving forward, the CEO said there is a need for analytics that go beyond the network edge and into an enterprise's private and public clouds. The company recently announced partnerships with Ixia and Gigamon that will enable Savvius to use their technology to reach into the cloud.

"When you look at the breadth of the enterprise cloud surface, the places that enterprises interact with the cloud, it is extensive and growing. As they push more capabilities into the public cloud, the need for inter-application network-level analytics all within the cloud increases," Zulch said.

He pointed out, however, that the next stage is to ensure that "appropriate" network-driving analytics are brought back to the company's datacentre.

"You can't take all the traffic that's in the cloud and bring it back for analysis -- that's impractical," Zulch said.

"But bringing in the traffic that matters -- pushing the analytics themselves into the cloud and having only the metadata come back, the analytic results come back -- that is something that you'll will be seeing more from us within the next 12 months."

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