Ethernet equipment

Ethos Claims Ethernet Answers

Startup Ethos Networks Ltd. has picked up some additional funding as it tries to squeeze into a crowded market for carrier Ethernet gear.

The company announced today it's picked up $8 million in strategic investment from a European carrier. Ethos did not disclose the name of the new investor, but the Israel-based company has previously raised $6 million from Evergreen Venture Capital and Vertex Venture Holdings . (See Ethos Raises $8M.)

The company's press release says it's "launching" today, but Ethos has been showing its face around town, most recently at Light Reading's Ethernet Expo last week. There, it experienced a real-life forklift upgrade -- as in, a forklift bumped an Ethos box, and booth staffers had to plug all the cables back in. (See Ethernet Expo: More Cowbell.)

At first glance, Ethos would seem late to the game. After all, most of the industry is talking about carrier Ethernet, and plenty of standards are being crafted to that purpose -- such as Provider Backbone Bridging (PBB) or PBB-Traffic Engineering (PBB-TE, also known as PBT).

But CEO Yuval Davidor says Ethos has been at this since 2002, when he and Hayim Porat founded the company. Porat, formerly of RAD Data Communications Ltd. , is now chief technology officer. Davidor's previous startup experience includes founding and running Schema Ltd. , a wireless-equipment vendor.

Ethos's work went ignored by the industry during its first few years as the telecom downturn unwound. "We needed to wait until the end of 2005, when things started to pick up," Davidor says. In fact, he notes, Ethos didn't raise its first institutional funding until 2006.

Ethos claims to provide end-to-end quality of service (QOS) for Ethernet connections, in a manner resilient enough so that carriers could safely use statistical multiplexing, overprovisioning their networks while giving priority to video and voice traffic. An Ethos demo shows the company's Gigabit Ethernet gear sitting around the network's edges, pumping video feeds through a core made of plain, dumb Ethernet boxes.

Ethos isn't saying much about how it does all this -- only that the trick is to maintain absolute control of all traffic at the flow level.

Davidor claims 90 percent of Ethos's technology doesn't overlap with what Ethernet standards like PBB-TE attempt to do. Ethos has applied for patents, of course.

(The company is also proud of its equipment's management software, which Davidor hints might be an even richer source of patents.)

Ethos is selling enterprise-class boxes now and plans to ship carrier-class gear in the second quarter of 2008, Davidor says.

Because plenty of better-known companies offer Ethernet hardware -- Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) comes to mind -- Ethos is hoping to strike up some OEM deals and claims to have started discussions with major vendors. "We can't go it alone," Davidor says.

— Craig Matsumoto, West Coast Editor, Light Reading

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