HACIENDA ONLINE

More

Published February 20, 2001
Volume 9, Number 2



Network Robots Offers Internet Breakthrough
Company's Programmable Networking Devices Could be a New Evolutionary Step


By Jay Hipps
Network Editor 



Network Robots, a company that has the potential to change the basic infrastructure of the Internet and other computer networks, has launched in Hacienda. 

Network Robots"The breakthrough that we have achieved here is being able to run software-defined logic at gigabit line rates," says Junaid Islam, the company's CEO and a member of its founding team. "We believe this is potentially a fundamental shift and discontinuity in how the Internet is built from a services perspective." 

For service providers like Qwest, SBC, and Cable & Wireless who offer voice and data services over newer, fiber-optic infrastructure, the new technology could be a key to the deployment of advanced, broadband services.

A New Category
The Network Robots technology, which has already been proven out in prototype devices, represents a new step in networking technology.

"If you think of networking devices now, they're all hardware defined. You buy a box and it's a firewall or a router, so when service providers want to make a change, they need to buy new hardware, which is expensive," Islam explains. "If you could (instead) download programs to accomplish the same goal, that would be very compelling." 

The idea of a programmable network is not new. Software is available to turn PCs into routers, usually for the purposes of sharing a single Internet connection among several users in a small office. Compared to a dedicated hardware router, though, it's a slow, inefficient solution, offering a throughput of just tens of megabits per second as compared to Network Robots' gigabit devices. 

"We've broken the previous limit by a large magnitude," Islam notes.

Marketplace Advantages
Islam believes that his company's new devices will offer enough advantages that they will be received eagerly in the marketplace.

"For service providers today, launching of new services is unfortunately tied to the development of hardware," he says. "The idea of a new service in the service provider community means a minimum of one year and maybe two from the time that you think of the idea to the time you launch.

"With a programmable device, you can work with the manufacturer or a software developer and deploy that service in a span of three or four months. That would really change the business models of service providers who want to do more things, and that's what we're all about."

Ambitious Plans
Those are certainly ambitious plans but they seem to be playing out as expected so far. The company received $20 million in first-round funding in November from two of the most prestigious venture capital firms around, Venrock and Interwest. Venrock, for example, is the venture capital arm of the Rockefeller family and has been involved with companies such as Apple, Intel, and 3Com in the past. 

Network Robots is currently in the process of developing products using their new technology, bringing on new engineers with the idea of launching these products this fall.
 
 



Also in this issue ...