PLUMgrid Raises $10.7 Million With Goal To Become The New Platform For Networking

PLUMgrid has raised $10.7 million in Series A funding from Hummer Winblad and US Venture Partners to build an operating system that serves the network as much as the modern x86 processor is the foundation for the compute power we use every day to run our applications.

The network is becoming a sort of holy grail. We’ve figured out the compute. You can buy a cheap box and with an x86 processor turn it into a database or web server. It’s with these cheap boxes that Google built its empire. The entire infrastructure relies on these commodity servers that run with its own software, a secret sauce of software that Google will never reveal. It’s their example that has led to a new breed of customers such as Facebook that decided to build the infrastructure themselves.

Even though they are built on the same chip you can’t buy a cheap box and turn it into a router or a switch Today you have to buy the hardware.

The founders at PLUMgrid want to change all that with software defined networking (SDN) that can be delivered as software over standard silicon, such as the x86 chip. The PLUMgrid SDN will be designed to serve as a platform for networking that embraces the principles of virtualization.

That would mean that anyone could make their own networking boxes. They would not have to rely on a company like Cisco for the hardware.

Is this a potential bigger play than Nicira? It’s increasingly clear that Nicira is not the ultimate winner in the SDN space even with the validation it received from VMware, which acquired the company last month for $1.26 billion.

The people I talk to say Nicira may aim to be a platform but at this point it is merely a point solution. That’s not going to fly with VMware customers who do not want to fill in all the missing gaps. There is no clear definition for how the virtualization layer will integrate with network infrastructure.

Google and providers such as Amazon Web Services have helped the market better understand the value of open, distributed infrastructures. Now we also have OpenStack, CloudStack and Eucalyptus Systems that will all be innovating with new, modern forms of networking.

PLUMgrid hopes to be the company that sits at the center of the convergence that is happening with compute, virtualization and networking. If it can do it then a $40 billion market awaits.