RouteScience Soups Up IP
RouteScience Technologies Inc. today became the first of a handful of new companies to ship an IP router management product that is designed to optimize IP traffic and thus lower the costs and improve the performance of Internet services.
The company announced general availability of PathControl, which aims to send outbound IP traffic over the smartest and most efficient route by using software to monitor Internet routing connections. That makes it the first among at least three companies pursuing similar goals, including NetVmg Inc. and Sockeye Networks.
NetVmg recently announced a similar product that it intends to ship next month (see NetVmg: A Bandwidth Cost Cop). Sockeye Networks, whose advisory board includes Ethernet inventor Bob Metcalfe, hasn't yet announced product specifics.
Some observers said that the goal is admirable -- but that these companies may encounter resistance from Internet service providers.
"Optimal path selection is a very good thing indeed -- if you're an enterprise customer," says David Newman, president of Network Test. "On the other side of the fence, it doesn't help ISPs any, since multiple paths to choose among typically means multihoming, and multihoming contributes to gargantuan routing tables." But, in fact, these companies are targeting enterprise customers and may not be concerned about what the ISPs think. Such products may represent the new face of VC-funded startup activity: smaller ideas that aim to solve targeted problems that can give enterprise customers a return on investment (ROI). None of the companies in this market have received more than $50 million in funding.
RouteScience CEO Herb Madan said his company expects to start booking revenue for the product by the end of the month. The company was founded two years ago and has been funded by a number of well-known venture capitalists, including Benchmark Capital and Sequoia Capital.
Unlike other network devices designed to increase network performance, such as content-layer switches and Internet caching devices, The RouteScience product is targeted at improving the performance of outbound Internet service links themselves, rather than improving the way traffice is balanced over Internet servers, says Madan.
"We're solving a real problem," he says. "Routers are built for connectivity, not performance. Companies are trying to move private networks to the IP-based Internet. But companies can't currently get predictability and control in IP."
Madan, formerly a vice president in Cisco's service provider line of business, was also the founder and CEO of Netsys, a network performance software company that was acquired by Cisco in 1996. At Cisco he specialized in MPLS VPN products.
Madan says the company is currently looking at financing options, but he says that $25 million in funding secured so far gives it enough "runway" to operate through early next year.
RouteScience PathControl will range in price from $140,000 to $250,000, depending on the device configuration.
-- R. Scott Raynovich, Executive Editor, Light Reading