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Start-up revs data packet engine

NetBoost devises a new method to speed the performance of networked applications within a corporate layout.

Start-up NetBoost has devised a new method to speed the performance of networked applications within a corporate layout.

The company is attempting to deliver what it calls a network application "engine" that essentially performs all data packet processing for third-party applications such as bandwidth management, firewalls, and intrusion detection. The catch is that application vendors have to write to NetBoost interfaces in order to reap the performance benefits.

NetBoost claims its combination of software and hardware technology can deliver network-based application data across a local area network at wire speeds--as fast as the various forms of Ethernet deployed en masse, topping out at 100 mbps.

Due to the process-intensive nature of advanced network-based applications, NetBoost executives believe their technology can improve on the speeds offered by typical networking switches and routers.

Basically, the technology offloads and accelerates processes that determine where a data packet goes and what happens to it when it gets to its destination, according to Len Rand, president and CEO of NetBoost. "The problem is just now becoming apparent to the software developers," he said.

Third-party software companies that have signed up to write to NetBoost's interface include NetScout Systems, Internet Security Systems, Aventail, and Sequel Technology.

One industry watcher, however, raised a caveat. "Although we believe the company's concept is very good, this is a new market and it is too soon to say for sure if the product will be a success," a report by Current Analysis stated. "Execution of its software version now and its hardware version later this year must occur before we can judge the actual market success potential."

The start-up is rolling out a software version of its product this week, along with a developer's kit. A hardware "appliance" for large corporations based on Intel processors and custom silicon and Microsoft's Windows NT will roll out in the fourth quarter.

A server-based card will roll out at the same time for individual server systems and workstations. A gigabit-speed version of the products are in the works.

NetBoost has received an initial $4.6 million in funding from various venture firms and is now closing a second round of financing.