ATCA/Standard Servers

Stoke Cashes In, Comes Out

After spending two years in stealth mode, Stoke Inc. Monday raised the curtain on its flagship "multi-access gateway" product and announced $20 million in new funding. (See Stoke Gets $20M, Launches Box.)

The cash injection is led by new investor Duff Ackerman & Goodrich LLC (DAG) , with support from existing investors Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and Sequoia Capital .

Stoke took $10 million in June 2004 and $20 million in September 2005. The latest round brings its total backing to $50 million. (See Stoke Gets Stoked With $20M.)

The vendor's Stoke Session Exchange (SSX) product is an access device that manages the voice, multimedia, and data sessions of users who are roaming between wireline and wireless networks.

A 2006 Unstrung Insider report, Mobile Network Security: The Threat of Convergence & IMS, describes the SSX like this: "It is based on an ATCA platform with a custom 1.2-Tbit/s backplane and custom-built high-performance linecards. Currently offered in a 5-slot chassis, the product delivers 16 Gbit/s of IPSec encrypted throughput capable of 256K concurrent IPSec tunnels."

Stoke says the SSX constantly dictates the fastest, most secure, and most cost effective way for users' devices to connect to the appropriate network. (See Stoke Says It's in Session.)

"All the new games and phones, like the Apple iPhone, [will] be WiFi enabled," says Stoke marketing VP Keith Higgins. "You need subscriber management for all those WiFi devices... You need to do stateful session management of thousands of subscriber sessions." (See Policy Control Heats Up.)

Heavy Reading analyst Rick Thompson says Stoke's niche is important and growing. "Understanding exactly how subscriber management will work in a fixed/mobile convergence environment is still up in the air, but nonetheless it's an important area to watch," Thompson says. "I would look for traditional wireline subscriber management vendors to roll out similar solutions as integrated components of existing systems or as new products."

Stoke believes its main competition currently comes from Starent Networks Corp. (Nasdaq: STAR), but expects Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) to be a major threat in the future. "This is an IP problem, so Cisco is often involved with three or four devices," says Stoke's Higgins.

He also expects competition from vendors selling "session-oriented legacy platforms in fixed networks that do DSL subscriber management."

But Higgins believes Stoke will have an edge over such legacy platforms because they weren't originally designed to support many different wired and wireless devices moving among various network types. He says many potential competitors will need to add new blades as new devices and networks emerge.

The company also claims deployment experience. Higgins says the company has been working closely for the past 18 months with an unidentified Japanese carrier to put the finishing touches on its product. There, Stoke's SSX is being used as a video session management device. Stoke says it first built its box to that carrier's specifications but has spent the past year or so broadening the capabilities of the product to suit other carriers' needs.

But Stoke remains vague about the total number of carriers with which it's already engaged. Higgins says the company is aiming to "find the top 10 operators that are most aggressively moving toward convergence to enable multimedia," and make them customers. The new funding, he says, will be used to boost marketing to those carriers and to hone the SSX to fit their requirements.

Stoke is based in Santa Clara, Calif., and employs about 65 people, of which about 80 percent are engineers, says Higgins. The company apparently hit some lean times while getting its product ready for market. When Light Reading checked in with Stoke last April, it had 85 people on the payroll.

— Mark Sullivan, Reporter, Light Reading

lightreceding 12/5/2012 | 3:16:09 PM
re: Stoke Cashes In, Comes Out Let's hope CEO Randall Krupp has better luck with Stoke than he did with Procket, which got sold to Cisco for salvage value.
laserbrain2 12/5/2012 | 3:16:09 PM
re: Stoke Cashes In, Comes Out Good for them. Cut the fat to 65 folks. Stretch the cash. Don't, please don't, pull a Force10.

A big ambitious box, takes lots of investment. But if you're wise, maybe you can do it on $100 mil rather than half a billion dollars.
Honestly 12/5/2012 | 3:16:07 PM
re: Stoke Cashes In, Comes Out As with Procket, this CEO builds giant boxes first, ooouch, raises a ton of money and focuses on markets that are either already dominated, or are not at the core of carrier interests in the US.

Good luck Randall, but there are some similarities to Procket, including the two year under the radar wait until launch stuff. hope thids one is better than the last. Has Chambers called yet, rumor has it that he has.?
lightreceding 12/5/2012 | 3:16:06 PM
re: Stoke Cashes In, Comes Out Randall did the same thing at Redback. Pushed for the SMS10000, which was their biggest box, that never sold in big numbers and was even returned by customers for under performance. Then Randall took the two managing engineers for the SMS10000 to Procket.
mfg-boy 12/5/2012 | 3:16:04 PM
re: Stoke Cashes In, Comes Out Your right on target with your comments. In addition it's some old Redback & Procket folks. Trying the same thing over and expecting different results. Isn't that insanity?
Mark Sullivan 12/5/2012 | 3:16:02 PM
re: Stoke Cashes In, Comes Out Honestly -- Thanks for your good posts on the Stoke story. Regarding your final comment about Mr. Chambers calling on Randall et al at Stoke: What does that rumor mean exactly? If you'd like to talk offline, my email is [email protected]
fmc_man 12/5/2012 | 3:16:01 PM
re: Stoke Cashes In, Comes Out "Good Posts on the Stoke story"?? Beating the Procket [dead] horse again? Honestly is in serious need of some new material...
Upside_again 12/5/2012 | 3:16:00 PM
re: Stoke Cashes In, Comes Out They have big hush hush stealth mode, grab lots (too much) cash, churn and burn a big story and then there are no customers? Yes, this looks like procket deja-vu. They need to post some real customers or get the box in meaningful trials where other companies and sales folks actually see the technolgy operate in the field. Then it's real - otherwise it's just another doomed for failure Randall spin job. I think this guy makes a great living at this. LR makes a great living at reporting this stuff too. Hire a good sales team and get CUSTOMERS !!!

Googoless 12/5/2012 | 3:15:57 PM
re: Stoke Cashes In, Comes Out Japanese Kobe Beef that is...

Let's see how real this Japanese carrier that they (and LR) keep talking about over and over and over is.

Forget spin rhetoric and worthless marketing.

Show me the beef!

cyber_techy 12/5/2012 | 3:15:40 PM
re: Stoke Cashes In, Comes Out
Honestly -- Thanks for your good posts on the Stoke story. Regarding your final comment about Mr. Chambers calling on Randall et al at Stoke: What does that rumor mean exactly? If you'd like to talk offline, my email is [email protected]

You need to start understanding sarcasm
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