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Startup Pluribus Networks Brings Virtualization To Enterprise Networks

As an IT manager knows, keeping track of your company's network is a never ending task. Large enterprises may have hundreds of Cisco or Juniper routers in their network, and historically, each one has been like a world unto itself.

As an IT manager knows, keeping track of your company's network is a never ending task. Large enterprises may have hundreds of Cisco or Juniper routers in their network, and historically, each one has been like a world unto itself.

Luckily for overworked IT pros in charge of their company's network, the advantages provided by virtualization have now arrived at the network in the form of Software Defined Networking, or SDN. One startup that is taking a unique approach to leverage the advantages of virtualization for enterprise networks is Pluribus Networks. Through virtualized switches and a distributed architecture, Pluribus is seeking to revolutionize IT networking - using the advantages of virtualization to improve the performance and ease of management of enterprise networks. Joining us today to discuss more about what Pluribus is doing is their CMO Dave Ginsburg.    

IT Specialist Thanks for joining us today Dave. Can you provide some brief background on Pluribus Networks, such as what year you were started and the background of the founders?

Dave Pluribus Networks was founded in April 2010. We were stealth mode developing the product until February of this year. The founders are Sunay Tripathi, Robert Drost, and C.K. Ken Yang. Our founders have more than 200 patents collectively and have brought together a variety of complementary experience and expertise. Sunay has a background in network virtualization and kernel development, Robert's background is in proximity communication, and Ken is an authority on high-speed serial links.

IT Specialist What was the inspiration behind the founding of Pluribus?

Dave The vision of our three founders was to develop an open, programmable network hypervisor that could bring server virtualization to the network itself. Essentially, our founders looked at what VMWare was doing at the data center and decided they wanted to take that a step further and build the first hypervisor for networking. The aim was to give IT networking pros a new way to run their networks with a single point of contact rather dealing separately with each piece of hardware throughout the network.

IT Specialist Can you highlight what your core value-proposition is?

Dave Our core value proposition is that we bring the network and applications closer together and fuse everything into a single network hypervisor that provides IT visibility into both all of the applications running over their network as well as all the hardware in the network itself. As part of this, a Pluribus-powered network operates as a fabric cluster, so the entire network can be managed by a single device with network-wide visibility.

IT Specialist How would you describe the traditional network, and how is what Pluribus Networks doing different?

Dave Historically, the network paradigm has been to look at each switch in the network architecture separately – essentially each one exists in its own world. In our case, we are looking at the network as a single entity. In the past designs, the compute and networking functions were separated, whereas in our case these two functions are seamlessly integrated. In this sense, the network is the natural extension of the central server.

IT Specialist In talking about the fusing of the compute/server and networking functions, what is the bottom line effect on the actual applications themselves? Ultimately, it’s all about how the applications perform, correct?

Dave Absolutely. And the advantage of the Pluribus architecture is that we move the applications closer to the network. This means you get lower latency and higher performance from the apps themselves. For organizations that depend on the network for their core business, this is a critical competitive advantage. Just to take an example, we have a high frequency trading firm using our solution, and the reason it works for them is that that the key feature of their business – their trading software – simply works better and faster on top of the Pluribus architecture. Or, to take another example of a highly time-sensitive application, TIBCO runs their enterprise messaging app running across our platform. The same could be said about content delivery, which is another application that customers are running across a Pluribus platform. In all of these applications there is a need for speed, performance, and programmability, and this is where Pluribus delivers. At the end of the day, when you get past the technical features, it’s all about the improved performance of the applications across a Pluribus platform.

IT Specialist Could you give us a brief overview of your core solutions?

Dave Sure. First off, we have our network hypervisor, which provides IT with a single point of visibility into the network – essentially looking at the network as a single entity rather than as a series of separate discreet pieces.  The Netvisor runs on both our Network Computing Appliances as well as our Server-Switches.  And note that even the server-switches, designed to bring server-like programmability and high-performance to the top-of-rack while following the commodity pricing curve, are very different than simple white-box switches running isolated instances of a network operating system.

Second, we have our inNetwork network analytics function. This provides a deep capture and storage of everything that that has happened over the network, so IT can analyze this information, while eliminating the requirement of a separate and expensive visibility fabric.

Third, we have our cloud services controller, which has proven to be extremely popular. With this, you can run an entire OpenStack platform, a cloud-in-a-rack if you may. For example, we recently came out with a partnership with Red Hat where their Linux and OpenStack platforms are running across a Pluribus hypervisor.

Finally, we have our Converged Networking Platform. This converged infrastructure allows IT to deploy a fabric cluster of Netvisor-powered server-switches and network computing appliances as an application fabric. This complements the platform's inNetwork Analytics and Cloud Controller capabilities. This ability to effectively host network-facing applications is a result of the platform's unique fusion of compute, storage, and switching, coupled with the industry's first network hypervisor, and also leads us into the NFV space though partnerships with virtual appliance vendors and service-chaining.

IT Specialist What role does the enterprise IT professional play in implementing and managing a Pluribus solution – how easy is it to install and then manage?

Dave Our objective is definitely to make IT’s job easier. Again, with a single point of visibility, it is much easier to manage a network then when you have to consider each piece of hardware separately. Our solution also brings NetOps and DevOps closer together, by providing NetOps with better programmability of network-based services and DevOps with better visibility into the network itself. 

IT Specialist Turning now to the corporate level, can you tell us how much money Pluribus has raised and who your core investors are?

Dave Sure, we have raised a total of $44 million so far, and our core investors are New Enterprise Associates, Menlo Ventures and Mohr Davidow.

IT Specialist Finally, for people who may be interested in testing the Pluribus solution or beginning a dialogue with you, what is the best way for them to start working with you?

Dave Sure, for starters, just go to the contact us field on our site and someone will get back to you immediately. One other interesting feature we offer IT pros who may want to kick the tires on our technology is what we call our “Virtual Proof of Concept Lab.” Here, you are able to log in remotely and actually see first-hand how our solution works. Believe me, if you’re used to running a traditional network architecture, you’ll notice a big difference!

IT Specialist Thank you for the very informative overview Dave, and best of luck going forward.

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