Tripathi (who holds 80 patents, many related to Solaris, but a variety in virtual switches, too) left Sun to solve this problem, and for the past three years has been building a team to create its Netvisor network operating system and Server-Switch hardware. Similar to how the x86 server ushered in an era of compute virtualization, Tripathi says a new era of networking chips from manufacturers like Fulcrum, Intel and Trident will allow increased programmability of switches. But they still need an operating system to control them, and that's what Pluribus provides.
Tripathi says he started Pluribus before the hype around SDNs heated up. Even though there are a bunch of startups in this emerging field -- just look at the rest of this list of companies to watch -- Tripathi says Pluribus's Netvisor system can work with next-generation networking switches and controllers from the likes of Nicira and Big Switch.
VC Jim Smith of Mohr Davidow, which has backed Pluribus, says a couple of things stood out to him about this startup, including the team and its devotion to offering a complete package. "We're already seeing the pain-points for this next-generation networking technology," Smith says. "It's clear there will be a new control layer to manage these super-complex compute and networking environments we're building for the future. Pluribus Networks is one of the few companies we've seen that offers a complete fabric for handling that complexity."
Headquarters: Westborough, Mass.
Focus: Data center in a box
Product availability: Limited availability of OmniCubes today; general availability in March.
Funding: $43 million from Accel Partners, Charles River Ventures and Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers.
Management: Chairman and CEO Doron Kempel, founder and CEO of Diligent Technologies, and with IBM and EMC before that; Vice President Engineering Brian Nadeau is a former Dell executive director; Vice President Marketing Tom Grave was director of product management and marketing for IBM's storage division.
More information: Simplivity
CEO Kempel doesn't have the traditional background of a startup tech exec: He holds degrees from Tel Aviv University in law and philosophy and served as a major in the Israeli Defense Forces before pursuing a technical career.
That amalgamation of experience is emblematic of what SimpliVity brings to the market: A unified data center system that combines best-of-breed technologies. It offers an alternative to a common data center rack filled with possibly hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of servers, shared storage units, backup and deduplication appliances, a WAN optimization box, a cloud gateway and more.
Simplivity's OmniCube 2U appliances, which work with VMware software, each boast up to 40TB of usable capacity, 12 cores and 800GB of memory. They start at around $55,000 and if users need more scale, they can add OmniCubes, creating a highly-available OmniStack that can be dispersed geographically and managed centrally.
A key driver behind the OmniCube is data management. Kempel and his team came from Dilligent, a de-duplication startup that IBM bought in 2008. Using that experience, the company has integrated deduplication and compression into the OmniCubes for all data at inception and throughout all layers of the OmniCube. This eliminates the need for separate WAN optimization tools and speeds the connections for data requests, the company says.