New Pulse Secure release of virtual Application Delivery Controller adds analytics, improves application visibility

Pulse Secure has announced the release of Pulse Secure Services Director 18.1, the virtual Application Delivery Controller [vADC] they acquired from Brocade last year. Key components of the new release include reworking and improving application visibility, with new Enterprise Management tools with the core capabilities to export data for analysis, a new analytics application, and a new end-to-end view of traffic flows.

Pulse Secure’s acquisition of the Brocade vADC closed in Q3 of 2017. Revenues initially dipped, in part from the loss of some interconnected channel storage business from Brocade, although some of that were retained. Two quarters later, however, the vADC business has seen a return to growth.

“We are now back to the pre-acquisition revenue level,” said Aidan Clarke, Senior Product Manager at Pulse Secure, who came to Pulse Secure with the Brocade product, which he has worked on for the last six years. “We have achieved this with a laser focus on cloud, security, and other targeted use cases. The  Pulse Secure Access Suite provides secure and reliable access for the data centre and mobile, and the vADC products from Brocade became a key part of that.”

In 2017, the vADC business added 133 net-new enterprise customers, many of them coming from Pulse’s install base.

Clarke noted that the growth in the ADC market is coming almost entirely from the virtual ADCs, indicating the core strength of the market opportunity.

“Hardware ADC’s have been growing at a 1 per cent rate, while the virtual ones have been growing at between 20 and 30 per cent,” he said.

Clarke indicated that nearly half of Pulse Secure’s 2017 bookings were channel-driven.

“The Brocade channel was different, with a strong collection of networking partners, and others related to Brocade’s storage business,” he said. “The Pulse Secure channel for vADC now looks similar, but the percentage of channel business is lower than it was under Brocade.”

Clarke said that the 18.1 release of the Pulse Secure Services Director – the vADC’s centralized licensing and monitoring platform – is all about adding and improving enterprise management tools.

“We are utilizing a different approach for application visibility in order to make it more intuitive for customers,” he said.  “The change in the way ADCs are now deployed has created the need for simplified management tools. Instead of a big monolithic ADC in the data centre, customers now tend to have dozens, or even hundreds of much smaller ADCs. That makes centralized management tools a key component.”

The Enterprise Management capabilities now include centralized backup and restore of ADC instances, as well as centralized authentication for administration of ADC instances. They also support centralized logging and Application Data Export for integration with third-party analytics engines. Pulse SD automates the management, licensing, and metering of virtual network services for Pulse Secure vADC, one of the most advanced virtual application delivery controllers in the market today.

The analytics application introduced in 18.1 is the initial stage of a much more ambitious project.

“We see three elements in analytics from the vADC,” Clarke said. “First, we have a data source. Second, we provide insight through analysis and virtualization. The third stage is linking to orchestration and automation. We aren’t at the third stage yet. That’s the future, and later this year or early next year is the plan.”

This initial analytics release leverages an existing Splunk environment. It provides insights into application behavior with segment-by-segment breakdown of traffic statistics, to the microsecond.

“You can drill down into performance problems to identify the best thing to do,” Clarke said. “The analytics application has a very intuitive workflow, so you can see how traffic is flowing, isolate interesting traffic and see the raw data. A customer with 100 ADCs will get a 50,000 foot view of it all, which is very powerful for them.”

Clarke said there are essentially three use cases for the analytics.

“One is for those who have their own system and just want the data,” he indicated. “One is for those who have Splunk, but want help making data useful. The third is those who want a turnkey solution.”

Pulse Services Director 18.1 is available now.