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December 13, 2011
Startup Embrane Inc. launched its first product Monday, promising a way to create virtual appliances for Layer 4 through 7 applications -- and, maybe, a way for potential vendors to cash in on the concept.
The company's software platform, called heleos, is used to cobble together x86 server capacity to create a virtual firewall or load balancer -- the first two types of appliances being offered by the company.
Embrane's founders have Cisco heritage. Chief Executive Dante Malagrinò and CTO Marco Di Benedetto were working on the Catalyst 6500 line when they left Cisco with the Andiamo team -- which famously got re-acquired in 2002. (See Cisco's Creative Andiamo Options.)
Embrane has US$27 million in funding, most of it having arrived this past summer. The first heleos customer is Navisite, which is testing Embrane's virtual firewall as an alternative to the Cisco and Citrix Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CTXS) appliances it's been using.
Why this matters
Service providers can offer virtual appliances in the cloud today, but that approach "doesn't require them to do anything special," Malagrinò says. Heleos lets them turn those functions into more of a service, he says.
But the idea could go further. Embrane's Distributed Virtual Appliances (DVAs), as the company calls them, are like containers for running certain programs. It's feasible that some other company's software could run inside them, and Malagrinò tells Light Reading that he'd like to eventually open the DVA code for other companies to use.
So, Malagrinò claims that instead of competing with the likes of F5 Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: FFIV), Riverbed Technology Inc. (Nasdaq: RVBD) or Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), Embrane could become their partner, providing the vehicle for more fluid and scalable versions of Layer 4-through-7 appliances.
It's a dream so far. Malagrinò says Embrane hasn't even started talking to equipment vendors.
Some other recent cloud-related happenings:
Cloud Watch: More and More Mergers
Cisco Opens Up the CloudVerse
Standards in the Cloud
The Software Revolution Is Coming
— Craig Matsumoto, West Coast Editor, Light Reading
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