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SDN Startup Pluribus Networks Raises $50 Million

The company over the past four years has raised a total of $95 million in support of the open SDN platform based on its Netvisor OS.

Pluribus networks

Pluribus Networks, one of a number of smaller startups in the highly competitive software-defined networks market, has raised another $50 million for its open networking platform from a major networking vendor and a firm known for its investment in giant Chinese online shopping site Alibaba.

The funding from Ericsson and Temasek Holdings, as well as previous investors, brings total fundraising by 4-year-old Pluribus to $95 million. The money will be used to expand the company's capabilities, according to officials. The latest round was announced Jan. 21.

"The funding is primarily to scale our business side and help sell more products, build support infrastructure and create an application group that can write more applications on the Netvisor platform to exploit the world of programmable networks," Pluribus co-founder CTO Sunay Tripathi wrote in a post on the company blog.

Pluribus offers a number of networking appliances that share the company's Netvisor distributed bare-metal open operating system and hypervisor. Systems maker Supermicro also builds switches that can run the Netvisor OS.

In his blog post, Tripathi compared what Netvisor does in the data center with what smartphone operating systems—first iOS and then Android—did when they first came on the scene.

Before smartphones, users had a number of single-use devices, some that played music, others that offered GPS services and still others that took photos. Smartphones, armed with the operating systems that could support all those applications, brought those capabilities onto a single device. Netvisor is doing the same in the data center, he wrote.

"Today, you have a physical fabric, a separate visibility fabric (using taps and probes which are sometimes [more] expensive than the physical network they are monitoring), hardware appliances for services and separate overlay networks with their controller appliances, a situation akin to that drawer full of dedicated, application-specific gadgets," Tripathi wrote. "Since Netvisor is a distributed bare-metal switch OS, all this functionality, previously delivered by dedicated boxes and appliances, can now be delivered via software running on Netvisor. The app store has come to the network."

Netvisor can also serve as a network fabric for application development, he said.

Software-defined networking (SDN) and network-functions virtualization (NFV) are designed to enable businesses and service providers to build highly flexible, agile, scalable and programmable networks by removing the control plane and networking tasks—such as intrusion detection and firewalls—from the underlying gear and putting it into the software that can run on less-expensive commodity hardware.