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Juniper Vets Aim for Data Center

Two (Nasdaq: JNPR) veterans claim they're creating a new class of data-center equipment with their latest startup.

The year-old Xsigo Systems Inc. (pronounced tsee-go) is "still in stealth mode," says CEO Ashok Krishnamurthi, who left as Juniper's VP of infrastructure products about a year ago (see Juniper 'Founder' Flees).

Krishnamurthi and his brother R.K. Anand (by Indian convention, the "K" in Anand's name stands for Krishnamurthi) left Juniper a year ago to found Xsigo with third brother S.K. Vinod (see Juniper 'Founder' Flees). They're not saying how much money Xsigo has raised, but it certainly has big-name believers, as Greylock Partners and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers invested.

While Xsigo isn't detailing its plans, Krishnamurthi says the startup aims to make the data center more efficient by allowing computational resources -- servers, for example -- to hop from one application to another as needed. The idea is to end overprovisioning, whereby excess servers and switches are deployed just to satisfy peak demand.

Overprovisioning can seem wasteful in areas such as financial trading, where some applications run only part of the time. "What happens to these compute elements after 5 o'clock? They remain idle. What if they could make those servers available for other applications?" Krishnamurthi says.

Xsigo's plan is to meld servers and networking gear into some new kind of equipment -- Krishnamurthi notes they haven't settled on a term for it. Whatever it is, Xsigo claims it's found some alpha customers who will get the first boxes by the end of the year.

As for data center credentials, Krishnamurthi notes that he's got several years at Sun under his belt in addition to Juniper experience, giving him a look at the server and networking sides of the problem.

A year ago, Krishnamurthi and Anand's goals seemed far removed from anything Juniper was planning, which is why they left. Now Krishnamurthi concedes he might end up competing with Juniper, which recently acquired two data-center system vendors, Peribit Networks Inc. and Redline Communications Inc. (see Juniper Takes Two: Peribit & Redline).

Like Juniper, (Nasdaq: CSCO) is paying more attention to data center matters and has bolstered its position in the market with the $250 million acquisition of Topspin Communications Inc.. It also recently announced its application-oriented networking (AON) technology, which reflects the aims of the Xsigo team by aiming to make the network more adaptable to the needs of applications (see Cisco Takes On Topspin and Cisco Speaks Applications).

— Craig Matsumoto, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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