The brains behind one of the most successful independent networking
companies in the post-Cisco Systems era have resurfaced.
The two leaders of the former Cascade Communications--Gururaj "Desh"
Deshpande and Dan Smith--are at it again, gaining $20 million in two rounds
of venture funding for Sycamore
Networks, a new network equipment entry targeting the fiber-optic
networking needs of carriers and service providers.
Sycamore is focusing on technology that will provide greater control for
network layouts implementing fiber-optic strands. The idea is to allow carriers and
service providers to implement a sophisticated set of services by using its
product, according to executives, allowing for management of what is
expected to be a glut of high-speed bandwidth in the coming years,
The company will debut test versions of its products in the first half of
next year, with final shipment due by the end of the year, according to
Deshpandi pegged the market the company is targeting at $8 billion to $10
billion over the next few years. "The opportunity is huge," he said.
The latest high-end networking play to come out of Western Massachusetts
highlights a remarkable trend for former members of the Cascade executive
team, a firm acquired in the
spring of last year by Ascend
Free from the contractual requirements associated with the Ascend merger,
former Cascade executives are turning up in start-ups all over the area.
Nascent firms such as Argon Networks
and Castle Networks include
top members from the Cascade team. Some have even set up shop in Westford, Massachusetts--the former
home of Cascade.
What all these start-ups are facing--despite a ton of new carriers and
bandwidth providers--is a glut of similar entries all gunning for the same
niche, with varied types of technology. A slew of well-funded
firms have decided that upgrades to current carrier networks and future
network build-outs represent an opportunity too large for only Cisco, Ascend, Lucent Technologies, Nortel Networks, and other giants.
The current terabit routing and fiber-optic oriented entrants will likely
follow a script similar to the market for Gigabit Ethernet networking
technology, according to analysts. A huge number of start-ups garnered
piles and piles of venture capital money in order to make devices based on
Gigabit Ethernet technology in the mid-1990s. But the market was soon
characterized by acquisitions, with a lonely few remaining independent at
this point, left out in the cold.
Some view the success of Cascade as an inspiration for their own goals.
Cascade survived in an acquisition-minded networking industry, becoming one
of the few companies to go public and thrive from the early 1990s. Others
that remain independent are few and far between, with Fore Systems and Xylan notable networking exceptions.
Deshpande, former chairman at Cascade, will serve in the same capacity for
Sycamore. Smith, president and chief executive for Cascade, will also take
on the same roles at the new firm. Matrix Partners and North Bridge Venture
Partners are among the venture capitalists investing in Sycamore.