Procket's Test Teaser
At first glance, Procket Networks Inc.'s announcement this month that it had shipped a beta version of its "Internet infrastructure software" to seven service providers
for testing marked a significant milestone in the IP router startup's progress (see Procket Announces Beta Shipments).
Better yet, the press release included a positive user testimonial from one of those service providers, Metromedia Fiber Network Inc. (MFN) (Nasdaq: MFNX), which suggested that MFN had already evaluated the code, with positive results.
“Procket’s software is remarkably robust and complete,” according to Andrew Partan, senior network architect for MFN.
But on closer examination it appears that the announcement may not be all that it seems. For one, it's not known whether Metromedia Fiber has had its hands on Procket's routing code.
Procket won't say. "I cannot confirm or deny [that it was the routing software]," says Tony Li, Procket's founder.
Further, it turns out that Andrew Partan, the MFN exec quoted in the release, is a member of Procket’s strategic and technical advisory board. Hardly an unbiased reference, especially as advisory board members typically receive an equity share in the companies that they help in return for their time.
Partan did not return calls.
How close is Procket from having a real product? That’s hard to tell, considering that the company hasn’t disclosed any details about what it’s working on. Company executives also haven’t disclosed any sort of timeline for the product.
But judging from the history of other core routing companies, it could be a very long time before Procket has anything to ship. Pluris Inc., IronBridge Networks Inc., and Charlotte’s Web Networks Ltd. are all examples of companies that have been working on core routers for the past three years -- and none of them has yet shipped commercial product.
Clearly, it's early days for Procket. The company has raised $34 million in venture capital in two rounds of funding. Pluris just completed its fourth round for $100 million (see Pluris Preparing for Its Public). And Ironbridge, which has already raised $83 million, is looking to complete a $100 million round (see IronBridge Over Troubled Water ).
-- Stephen Saunders, US editor, and Marguerite Reardon, senior editor, Light Reading http://www.lightreading.com