Vyatta: Open Source Networking Meets MSPs

Vyatta, which positions itself as an open source alternative to Cisco Systems, has launched a service provider partner licensing (VSPL) program. The subscription-based model targets ISPs, MSPs, hosting businesses and cloud providers. The big question: Will MSPs trust their infrastructure to open source routing and firewall services? For at least one MSP, the answer is a resounding yes. Here are the details.

Let's start with some fast facts. According to Vyatta, the VSPL partner program includes:

  • A usage-based revenue model
  • Monthly payment terms
  • On-demand deployment of routing and security solutions
  • Access to full Vyatta subscription software, services and support
  • A network services delivery platform
If you re-read that bullet list above, it almost sounds like Vyatta (running on x86 hardware) could represent a hardware as a service (HaaS) opportunity to VARs and MSPs.

The MSP Story

But what types of managed services can Vyatta partners offer to end customers? Vyatta points to five potential opportunities:
  1. Per customer colocation routing and security
  2. Per customer hosting datacenter firewall and VPN
  3. High-density virtual firewalling
  4. Customer premise to cloud secure connectivity
  5. Custom appliances for hosting and collocation customers

True Believer

A few weeks ago, we hinted that nScaled -- a managed service provider focused on the legal vertical -- was using Vyatta to build out its cloud services. In a prepared statement, nScaled CTO Kent Langley noted: "The Vyatta VSPL program promises to help us achieve our goals of doing this easily and cost effectively. We endeavor to build a dynamic, virtualized, and globally distributed infrastructure and Vyatta's network virtualization software is a key component in connecting and securing our clients."

nScaled isn't alone. Dozens of VARs and MSPs are joining Vyatta's partner program, which landed on the 2009 Open Source 50 report (the 2010 survey is under way now).

Still, I concede that open source has had a mixed history in the managed services market. Managed hosting providers widely leverage Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP (the LAMP software stack). And some MSPs are deploying emerging options like GroundWork Open Source. But the vast majority of MSPs seem to be leveraging more traditional closed-source PSA (professional services automation) and RMM (remote monitoring and management) solutions.
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