Startup RIFT.io came out of stealth mode Thursday, announcing $16 million funding and plans to release an open source NFV platform by year end.
RIFT.io -- founded last year by veterans of Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), Starent Networks, Juniper Networks Inc. (NYSE: JNPR), 3Com Corp. (Nasdaq: COMS) and more -- announced a series A funding round, led by North Bridge Venture Partners with participation from other strategic investors.
The company plans to release a RIFT.ware, an open source NFV platform, and is working with partners to create an ecosystem of developers for the platform itself and for virtual network functions (VNFs) built on the platform, Tony Schoener, RIFT.io chief strategy officer, told Light Reading.
RIFT.io is looking to combine the flexibility of VNFs with carrier-class software robustness and the agility of the cloud to help service providers and enterprises make the transition to the New IP, following the path of hypercloud providers such as Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) and Facebook .
"RIFT.ware will bring hyperscale capabilities we see in web-scale data centers and combine that with the team's knowledge of carriers to bring together the best of both worlds," RIFT.io Product Marketing VP George Hamilton told Light Reading.
RIFT.io plans over time to develop and reveal its open source partner ecosystem. Right now, it's disclosing one name: Benu Networks LLC , which provides WiFi access gateways, currently on custom hardware but is making the transition to standardized VNFs.
Open source advocates warn about open source projects that are in reality controlled and captive by a single vendor. True openness is a priority for RIFT.io, Schoener says.
"This is a valid concern and we want to be sure this is a genuine open source ecosystem," he says. "We're working with the VNF partners and strategic investors to drive a genuine ecosystem of software developers."
RIFT.io plans to provide more details on participants in its software ecosystem, and a timetable for releasing software, in a few months. It will describe an early access program for partners next week at the Intel Developer Forum.
The Open Platform for NFV Project (OPNFV), an alliance of multiple carriers and vendors under the Linux Foundation, is also building an open source OPNFV platform. RIFT.io plans to work with OPNFV to incorporate some of RIFT.ware's technology into the OPNFV platform.
RIFT.io's business model is the "classic open source business model." As other open source vendors do, RIFT.io plans to charge for support and for qualified, tested, versions of the software, Schoener says.
RIFT.io will face stiff competition from major vendors and startups, all of whom are looking to gain a foothold in the NFV market. HP Inc. (NYSE: HPQ), VMware Inc. (NYSE: VMW) and Juniper Networks Inc. (NYSE: JNPR) all see bright futures in NFV -- the first two of those companies seeing NFV as a means of expanding from their enterprise strength to the communications service provider market. (See HP Launches NFV-in-a-Box, VMware Looks to NFV to Crack SP Market and Juniper Looks to NFV for Growth.)
And mysterious startup Versa Networks is quiet about what it's doing, but talks about developing platforms for run-anywhere VNFs, that can run on the cloud, in a carrier data center or on customer premises equipment. (See Stealthy Versa Developing Run-Anywhere NFV.)
Light Reading and partner EANTC plan to perform interoperability evaluations for NFV, and have signed up Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), Juniper Networks Inc. (NYSE: JNPR), Metaswitch Networks and IneoQuest Technologies Inc. as the initial participants. (See NFV Evaluation: Cisco, Juniper & Others Are On Board and NFV Gets Real – Finally .)