Ottawa, Canada-based startup CENX has raised a $12.5 million equity round to help ramp its infrastructure for supplying service providers with Lifecycle Services Orchestration (LSO) software, which helps with orchestration, fulfillment, monitoring, and service assurance of software-defined networking (SDN) and network functions virtualization (NFV) services.
New investors in the Series D financing include BDC Capital, Mistral Venture Partners, and VMware. All of CENX’s prior investors participated, including Highland Capital Partners, Mesirow Financial Private Equity Inc., Verizon, Ericsson, DCM Ventures, and Cross Creek Advisors.
It’s an impressive cast of backers for a technology that is hitting the sweet spot of virtualized services. VMware, the virtualization giant, raises eyebrows as a possible strategic partner or even a potential acquirer. BDC, a well-known Canadian venture-capital firm, adds to the high-pedigree investor list.
CENX has now raised a total of $22 million. It is expected to grow to 200 employees this year, according to Rayno Report research.
Service providers want to turn up new network services using NFV, which allows them to use software to deploy new enterprise and consumer data services on a common infrastructure. CENX’s Cortx Service Orchestrator enables dynamic provisioning, visualization and assurance of data services across heterogeneous physical and virtualized networks.
CENX was featured in a March research report, “Service Provider LSO Overview and Market Forecast,” in which the Rayno Report forecasted the market to grow at a CAGR of nearly 60 percent, reaching $2.7 billion by 2019. This will be fueled by carrier SDN and NFV markets that are increasing 50 to 80 percent annually.
There are signs that the LSO market may be gaining momentum. Service providers have told me privately that they see it as a key enabler of NFV. It was a big topic of discussion at annual meeting of an industry organization, the MEF, in Vancouver two weeks ago. The MEF recently ramped up its effort to develop LSO standards as part of deployments with service providers. The MEF and companies such as CENX are also working with other organizations including the TM Forum and ETSI to get an orchestration layer built into new NFV architectures.
CENX President and CEO Ed Ogonek told me in a phone interview this week that CENX has “double-digit” deals in the pipeline, all focused on NFV implementations. “The focus is enabling the transition to NFV. We’ve been able to bring a new-generation technology, planning fulfillment service assurance, audit, and deep data anayltics. We’ve been able to do that today for their 4G and VPN cloud-based networks.”
Although CENX is not disclosing these potential new customers, Ogonek expects imminent deals with “Tier 1” service providers, which the company may disclose in the coming months.
Ogonek expects LSO to get more attention in the coming months as the standards organizations work to build the software management layer into existing NFV models — “a service orchestration framework that has been proposed through MEF and ETSI,” he says.