Hi everyone, I’m Tal Arad, marketing manager for Niagara Networks, and to kick off my series of blog posts about our company, I sat down with our CEO, Ben Askarinam, to get his perspective on the recently announced spin-off of Niagara Networks from Interface Masters Technologies, and to understand his vision for both companies.
Q. Ben, why did you decide to spin off Niagara Networks?
We have actually been engineering and selling Network Visibility products to end customers for monitoring and network security deployments for about six years. Our portfolio offers users a broad choice of product including Network Packet Brokers (NPBs), Network TAPs, and Bypass Switches. Our customers tell us we have the best solutions for 100G security in the industry.
Because Interface Masters Technologies sells primarily to OEM customers who put their own brand name on the products, most end users don’t know the company, but among network equipment companies, Interface Masters is a well-established provider. Interface Masters has shipped tens of thousands our products through our OEM partners to end users around the world.
Six years ago, we began development of what has become a full product family of industry-leading turnkey Network Visibility and Security enablement products, targeted at both OEM customers and end users. Through mostly word of mouth referrals, we’ve seen growing demand for our network visibility products from end user customers, particularly wireless and cable service providers and Federal government customers for network security use cases.
We realized to be truly successful with end user customers we needed to organize differently in order to let end users know about us, and to provide technical support and sales geographically dispersed near where our customers would be located. We also recognized that in the network visibility industry we needed close coordination with the various monitoring and security tools providers
After discussion with our customers, partners and advisors, we made the decision to spin-off the Network Visibility products into a new business, Niagara Networks, staffed with engineering, end user marketing, sales and customer service.
Q. Why the name Niagara Networks?
A key characteristic of most Network Visibility and Network Security enablement is that it involves processing information at a network flow level, whether it is a VOIP phone call, a video conference, an online customer experience, or backing up a database to a remote location. What the network sees, and what data centers and network operators are concerned about from a security or performance standpoint is information flows from a source to one or more destinations. Niagara Falls is a point where one can appreciate the impact of the biggest water source in the United States. The name Niagara inspired us with its image of flowing water – massive amounts of it. We also appreciated in several venerable civilizations, water is a source of blessing, hence the greatest blessing.
Q. What are the benefits you perceive for the stakeholders?
For OEM customers of Interface Masters, we can focus on delivering advanced high-quality products at competitive prices that exceed the expectations of our customers.
For Niagara’s customers and alliance partners, we’re executing on plans that will lead to Niagara being a recognized leader in the Network Visibility and Network Security arena. By spinning out Niagara Networks, we’ll progress more rapidly, and by bringing a core value from Interface Masters, our customers will experience outstanding service and support.
Q. How is the spin-off going to affect the geographies in which you operate?
Prior to launching Niagara, we started recruiting sales and technical support personnel in the Americas, Europe, Africa and the Middle East with deep experience in the Visibility and Network Security industry, so we are coming out of the gate with a broad geographic footprint. Outside of the Americas, our sales and support coverage will principally be through partners. We have already been approached by multiple partners with proven track records in the Visibility and Network Security space that want to take on our solutions, validating this approach.
In addition to expanding our presence in the Americas and EMEA, you can expect to see announcements in the Asia/Pacific region soon.
Q. What are the main focus areas for Niagara Networks?
The Network Packet Broker (NPB) industry segment is in a period of transition, with network security becoming increasingly important. Going back a decade, these products were used in overlay monitoring networks so that traffic could be tapped and processed by network and application monitoring tools without interfering with the data plane traffic. Beginning with the explosion in security threats, network operators started adapting these products to in-band security networking. We recognized a demand for solutions that combined Bypass capabilities with Network Packet Broker functionality, where in-band traffic is directed to multiple inline security appliances such as firewalls, malware detectors, and Deep Packet Inspection (DPI) devices. We see both monitoring and network security application areas expanding, and we will serve both.
In the area of 100G solutions, our customers tell us we have a lead on the rest of the industry and as speeds increase to 400G and beyond, we intend to keep it.
Q. What will Niagara’s global marketing strategy be?
While our solutions meet the broad requirements of enterprise and government customers, we see major opportunities in cloud providers and communications service providers, both of which are experiencing dramatic growth in the volume of traffic on their networks for video and IoT. They need to deliver secure traffic smoothly, operate their networks more efficiently at lower costs, and proactively respond to increasingly sophisticated security threats. It adds up to a complex set of requirements that we will meet. In order to do so, we will use both direct sales and support relationships with customers, expand alliances with partners, and expand our list of channel partners, particularly outside of North America.
In addition to our standard product offerings, we see that our DNA from Interface Masters Technologies gives us a unique edge in dealing with large strategic customers. Over its fifteen-year history, Interface Masters has developed the capability to respond to strategic customers’ unique requirements with customized solutions. For Niagara Networks, we are distinctly positioned to meet the specialized requirements of large communications service providers and cloud companies, be it customized capabilities for monitoring or security enablement.
For both Interface Masters Technologies and Niagara Networks, the future looks very bright.