It’s the usual right of passage. A founder — in this case, Robert Drost — is stepping aside for a more experienced executive to do the whole “next level” thing. For Pluribus, the guy is Kumar Srikantan, 14-year Cisco veteran and most recently vice president of the Enterprise Networking Group.
Srikantan started on the job Tuesday, and Pluribus announced his appointment Wednesday morning. (Yes, the same time Cisco launched Insieme. Pluribus wanted to make sure no one was looking, apparently.)
Sometimes the CEO swapout a sign of trouble, as we’ve noted in the case of Big Switch Networks, but Pluribus simply needs to level up, it seems. The company’s F64 top-of-rack switch, running its Netvisor software, has been in limited production for about a year, and now the company is preparing to ramp up volume.
Pluribus is shipping products but hasn’t fully disclosed what it’s doing. And to be honest, the parts it does disclose aren’t fully clear.
But here’s a stab at it: Pluribus wants to create the white-box analogue to the data-center fabric. A “white fabric,” you might call it. (We’re not expecting that term to catch on.)
Pluribus happens to use a generic white-box switch as the basis for the F64, but it’s not a white-box proponent in the sense that, say, Cumulus or Pica8 are. That is, Pluribus isn’t pitching the economic benefits of using generic hardware; it just happens to use the stuff.
More important to the company’s pitch is that its top-of-rack switches work in concert without the aid of a separate software-defined networking (SDN) controller. Its switches communicate over TCP/IP using Pluribus’ server-clustering software.
Pluribus’ hardware happens to be based on Broadcom‘s Ethernet switching chips, as practically everybody’s is these days. But Pluribus didn’t use Broadcom’s software development kit (SDK). Instead, the company developed its own switching software that’s chip-independent, says CTO Sunay Tripathi.
Target customers are the types that are buying equipment a rack at a time, each rack already stuffed with servers, Srikantan says. That’s been happening for 1-Gb/s servers, and Pluribus is hoping to ride the wave as the trend spreads to 10 Gb/s.
Pluribus has raised at least $44 million in three rounds, from backers including China Broadband Capital, Menlo Ventures, New Enterprise Associates and Mohr Davidow Ventures.
(Image: Pluribus’ booth from Oracle OpenWorld 2012. Photo lifted from Pluribus’ blog.)