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Optical/IP

Roving Planet Rakes In $9.5M

Two-year old Wireless LAN management startup Roving Planet Inc. today announced its first-ever round of venture capital funding and says it hopes to use the $9.5 million to break its ties with the 802.11 enterprise hardware market and develop an entirely software-based platform.

Roving Planet's system handles security and access management and enables network administrators to search for rogue access points and the like, as well as controlling how and when users can access applications that are running on the corporate network. Currently, the firm does offer two Linux-hardware appliances as part of its offering -- one to deploy user policies and one to monitor traffic and enforce access rights (see Roving Planet Revs Up for more on this).

This means that, at the moment, the firm is competing against appliance vendors like Bluesocket Inc. and Vernier Networks Inc.; but Roving Planet's CEO Brad Mesch says that his ambition is to move back into the core of the network and become a management overlay for 802.11 networks.

"Like Tivoli," he says. "That's what we want to be for the wireless LAN market.

In order to do that, the company will need to license or OEM its technology so that the traffic monitoring, firewall, and access enforcements can be handled by third-party access points or switches at the edge of a network. Roving Planet is already a Cisco Architecture for Voice, Video and Integrated Data (AVVID) partner, and Mesch is clearly hoping that this could tell in his company's favor.

"What other player in this market is an AVVID partner?" he asks.

Cisco is already treading similar WLAN ground with its "structured wireless-aware networked infrastructure enhancements," or SWAN for short, but Mesch doesn't see this as an issue. "We know what their SWAN is -- we've architected our product around what they're doing." Cisco, he says, doesn't go as deep into the minutiae of controlling what parts of the network and applications a wireless user can access as the dedicated Roving Planet system does.

Roving Planet's first round of funding was led by Appian Venture Partners and Draper Fisher Jurvetson.

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung

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