A Q&A with Sideband Networks founder and CEO Zane Taylor and co-founder and CMO Sherman Tang. The Sunnyvale, California-based startup, which offers a comprehensive, real-time network monitoring solution for enterprises, launched out of stealth mode in mid-November. It was founded in 2012 and has secured private Angel investment of $2 million to this point.
SUB: Please describe Sideband Networks and your primary innovation.
Tang: Our product is an ‘application-aware network performance monitoring’ solution. We provide complete network visibility across the virtual and physical planes, automatically creating network topology which self-maps your network infrastructure with drill-down details on your devices, traffic flow, subnets, VLANS, users, and applications. Through our unified single-pane view, we provide live traffic correlation of data combined with logged data, which gives predictive and dynamic ‘analytic alerts,’ recommendations, and ‘action-to-network’ issues in real-time.
SUB: Who are your target markets and users?
Tang: In short, the frustrated, overworked network administrator. We give the men and women that provide the five-to-nines to cloud services and enterprise networks the ability to be more proactive instead of reactive and firefighting.
SUB: Who do you consider to be your competition, and what differentiates Sideband Networks from the competition?
Tang: In truth, we are a unified platform that can connect all existing legacy solutions via API, and provide complete network visibility with alerts and recommended action. We remove the need to rip and replace—our customers can continue to invest in our product and services instead of legacy. Due to this ability, to many we are viewed as much more of an enabler and partner than competitor to peers in the Network Performance Monitoring [NPM] and Application Performance Monitoring [APM] space. Some of those companies are NetScout, Riverbed, Nagios and SolarWinds.
SUB: You’ve just launched out of stealth mode. Why was this the right time to launch?
Taylor: We are ready to deliver product. Our solution has evolved and our customer traction is high. There is a convergence going on in the market between NPM and APM, and there is an obvious gap that we fill—one that solves real network issues by fixing them rather than pointing them out. You only get that solution with complete visibility and view of the network and a solution that not only points to the issues, but provides recommendations on how to fix the issues as they occur, in real-time, on live traffic. The market is filled with lots of ‘fragmented point’ solutions—companies that solve a piece of the problem, or provide some view of the issue, but not the whole view. We aim to fix that. The market has solutions that claim they provide actionable intelligence, but they’re really just providing statistics that require the user to first understand what problem they have so that they can query that problem before getting some analytics on legacy stored data, from a log. While not necessarily providing a true root cause, Sideband is fixing these voids. These issues must be addressed so cloud ecosystems can expand successfully.
SUB: Have you raised outside funding to this point?
Taylor: Yes, outside institution and Angel investment has been really good.
SUB: What was the inspiration behind the idea for Sideband Networks? Was there an ‘aha’ moment, or was the idea more gradual in developing?
Taylor: What led to Sideband being formed was 30 years of frustration in working in the industry and managing global teams. IT professionals don’t have the tools or knowledge to know what’s going on in their network. Does anyone, even today, really know? Not having a scalable, easy-to-deploy-and-use solution, we’re changing that. The lack of the ability to report and act on live traffic events was another motivation. We’re finding a lot of companies share the frustration today of still not knowing what’s going on in their network, and they need to address cloud, as well as BYOD, demand.
SUB: What were the first steps you took in establishing the company?
Taylor: First, we determined why these problems have existed in the market for some period of time, and whether or not there are solutions that solve this. Once we determined that, we asked ourselves what we could do. From there, we established our patent strategy, and then filed our patents. Our three core patents were granted five months after we filed, and we we’re now in business, so to speak. Then, we proceeded to get alpha and beta customers to test and validate our technology and value, which they have because we address a problem they still have, even with the current solutions in the market, regardless of cost. Now we know we have a market.
SUB: How did you come up with the name? What is the story or meaning behind it?
Tang: We were thinking ‘out of band’ management. Our product does not need to be in-line; and since today’s end devices are wireless, the name made sense.
SUB: What have the most significant challenges been so far to building the company?
Taylor: Customers know what they don’t have more than they know what they think they need. We solve the ‘no, it is not impossible,’ and ‘yes, it works—you can have it’ dilemma. The clarity for us is that the customers that define the market requirements know and understand their pain points. As long as we address the pain points, we can deliver a unified solution to them.
SUB: How do you generate revenue or plan to generate revenue?
Tang: We have a vXRE virtual appliance and XRE-4000 hardware appliance for higher-demand throughput coming out soon.
SUB: What are your goals for Sideband Networks over the next year or so?
Taylor: Provide the best user experience possible. We want to get it out there and let people know that there is an easy-to-use answer for network visibility, and at an affordable price point.
Sideband Networks – www.sidebandnetworks.com