Matisse Lands $45M More

Optical equipment vendor Matisse Networks thinks it has a better way to do metro Ethernet aggregation, and so do its financial backers, as the company today announced a $45 million dollar funding round.

The new loot came from existing investors Menlo Ventures , Monitor Ventures , Walden International Investment Group , and Woodside Fund , as well as new investor Merrill Lynch & Co. Inc. Private Capital Group (PCG).

Matisse, founded in 2003, has raised a total of $80 million to date. So investors are doubling down on the company and Merrill Lynch looks to be the biggest bettor, with a $35 million contribution to the most recent funding round.

The Mountain View, Calif.-based optical startup makes two products -- the SX-1000 Ethernet Service Node and the PX-1000 Photonic Node -- that work together to aggregate metro Ethernet traffic over optical networks. (See Matisse Primes Metro Ethernet Makeovers and Matisse Intros Products.)

The PX-1000 provides generic optical transport around a metro ring, and the SX-1000, which contains a packet processor and a "burst" transponder, adds intelligence to the network. Up to eight SX-1000s can be connected to each of four PX-1000s for a total of 32 SX-1000s on a metro ring, yielding up to 640 Gbit/s of capacity.

The SX-1000 takes incoming traffic and sorts it according to destination and quality-of-service required. Packets are then assembled into "bursts" and sent to their destinations in the network using whatever wavelengths are available. The optical transponder in each SX-1000 can talk to every transponder on the metro ring via any available wavelength.

In this way, Matisse claims it can transport traffic more efficiently than by using a combination of ROADMs and Ethernet switches. Mark Showalter, director of marketing for Matisse, says that because operators are able to share transponders through the network, rather than pair them off, they can greatly reduce the cost of building out and maintaining their networks.

"It typically takes about half the number of transponders to build the network with optical burst switching, and also requires about half the number of router ports on the associated routers attached to the optical transport," Showalter says.

Despite having products available since late last year, Matisse is still working to sign and announce its first customer. "We're engaged with customers at both carrier and enterprise target markets," says Showalter. "Evaluation of new network equipment takes many months, and our EtherBurst switch is the first of its kind, so we're prepared for exhaustive trials before deployment.

"We could not have raised $45 million if we weren't expecting significant customer traction."

— Ryan Lawler, Reporter, Light Reading

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