Timing a fresh incursion of cash with the eve of Supercomm, edge equipment maker P-Cube today announced the completion of a third round of funding worth about $35 million.
P-Cube CEO Yuval Shahar says that the additional funding, which brings the companys total to $65 million, should be the last round P-Cube will require. Granite Global Ventures led the new round of funding, which also included first-time investors Venrock Associates and Accel Europe.
Shahar described the due diligence process as brutal. He said investors spent hundreds of hours working with trial customers, potential customers, partners and even doing personal reference checks. In the end, however, he says P-Cube persevered because it offers a system that improves existing infrastructures, rather than forcing carriers to replace existing network elements.
"We did not start building a godbox, and we did not try to reinvent transport," Shahar says. "If youre out there trying to sell service providers more routing, switching or a different type of transport, then youre in trouble."
Unfortunately, the vast majority of startups in the edge space are trying to do exactly that. Dozens of startups have introduced edge routers or IP services boxes designed to replace one or more existing pieces of networking gear. P-Cubes approach has been to offer a dedicated system designed to work with existing gear to look deep inside packets, making it possible to identify different types of traffic and allow service providers to create premium services.
That is in contrast with the approach favored by many edge players, which is to combine multiple functions, such as routing and subscriber management, with a system that does deep-packet inspection. Shahar says those platforms are already overburdened with existing functions.
Shahar says P-Cube is in relationships with Tier 1 carriers, CLECs and cable operators, which he says are interested in using the technology to better police the use of bandwidth on shared cable-broadband lines. In fact, P-Cube refers to its system as IP service control technology.
One of the uses of the device, Shahar says, is to identify users abusing all-you-can-eat pricing and to charge those users a premium.
The technology could also be used by a service provider offering its own content to identify bandwidth-hogging applications that originate outside the service providers network. Services like Napster and other peer-to-peer programs place considerable burdens on a service providers network, yet do not produce revenue. Shahar says P-Cubes technology could be used to identify such content flow and perhaps assign it a lower priority than content provided by the service providers network.
"It looks like a lot of places in the network will use some sort of service-control mechanism in their network," Shahar says. "The potential market is huge."