Net start-up has rich friends

Juniper Networks receives a $40 million influx of cash from a wide range of networking powerhouses, including 3Com and UUNet.

Start-up Juniper Networks today received a $40 million influx of cash from a wide range of networking powerhouses.

The privately held company, who has kept its product plans for next-generation routers tightly under wraps, has garnered the financial support of Northern Telecom; 3Com; UUNET Technologies, a subsidiary of WorldCom; the Siemens AG/Newbridge Networks alliance; and Ericsson.

The Mountain View, California-based start-up, which was founded in February of 1996, previously received $14 million from a variety of venture capitalists.

There is an increasing focus in the networking industry on the optimization of router hardware and software technology so that it can carry billion of packets per second in traffic made necessary by the explosion in Internet use. Cisco Systems, far and away the leader in router sales, has come under criticism recently for the performance of its products, which carry nearly 80 percent of Internet-based traffic, according to several estimates.

Cisco has responded with the Gigabit Switch Router (GFR), otherwise known as the 12000, which is currently in beta testing. In interviews, Cisco officials have pointed to start-ups, such as Juniper, as companies they are concerned about.

Juniper is working on a routing switch that can speed data via hardware and software optimization at billions of packets per second. Cisco has become dominant in routers because the research and development efforts necessary to create routing technology make it daunting for most nascent companies.

The third parties who have provided the company with funding will be allowed to implement Juniper's products in their customers' networks. Juniper products are expected to ship sometime next year.

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