Edgeflow Scores $18M
has scored US$18.5 million in new funding. Along with US$5.5 million in previously acquired seed funding, the Ottawa, Ontario-based startup, founded in 2000, now has US$24 million.
Executives say they plan to use the money to bring Edgeflow's products to market. These comprise a family of devices that pack add/drop multiplexing and wavelength switching into a single unit for use in metropolitan networks.
According to Edgeflow, wavelengths are the fundamental building blocks of tomorrow's carrier networks. But today, wavelength services are typically configured by attaching large optical switches or crossconnects to the existing Sonet network through an array of add/drop multiplexers. What's needed, Edgeflow says, are devices that eliminate the Sonet ADMs and reduce the size and cost of the switches. Smaller, more capable devices promise to streamline the provisioning process and reduce the costs of equipment setup and maintenance.
Apparently, carriers support this premise, enabling Edgeflow to garner its funding in these incredibly tight times. Indeed, according to CEO Wes Biggs, the company's ideas and prototypes generated enough enthusiasm to oversubscribe the round.
By how much? "Quite a bit," laughs Biggs. But he won't say just how much more Edgeflow was awarded than what it requested of its VCs, which include seed backers Venture Coaches and Sierra Ventures, as well as new contributors BTG International, Desjardins Venture Capital Group, Newbury Ventures, Pan Dacom Networking AG of Germany, Primaxis Technology Ventures Inc., and RBC Capital Partners Telecom Fund.
Analysts seem impressed with Edgeflow's plan. "Getting this amount in A round funding in the present climate shows they've gotten good response from carriers," says Grier Hansen, optical infrastructure analyst at Current Analysis.
Edgeflow has two products in the works, a 128-by-128-lambda metro core switch and a larger, 512-by-512-lambda switch designed to link the metro edge to long-haul networks.
Edgeflow says its equipment will be smaller and cheaper than that of would-be competitors such as ONI Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: ONIS) and Sycamore Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: SCMR). It already has one carrier customer lined up for its metro switch, which will be released early in 2002.
Another differentiator, Edgeflow claims, will be its management system, which "sniffs" out wavelengths for designation to a range of carrier interfaces, including Sonet and gigabit Ethernet. "About 20 percent of our development team are working on network management," says Michael Gassewitz, VP of engineering and product management.
On the downside, Edgeflow is entering a competitive market during a terrible slump. Its OEO architecture puts it into competition with leading vendors in a tight market (see Optical Taxonomy, Part 7), and its initial lack of support for grooming may hold it back.
But Biggs and his team are confident. "We have solid validation. Now it's heads down," he says.
— Mary Jander, Senior Editor, Light Reading