Startup NFWare Takes Aim at Cisco, JuniperNFWare has only ten employees and was just a twinkle in the eye of founder Alexander Britkin around two years ago. But last year, the NFV startup found itself going head to head with equipment behemoths including Cisco, Huawei and Juniper for a slice of a networks deal with Rostelecom, Russia's biggest long-distance telecom operator. "To my knowledge, we were the only virtualized vendor that was allowed to play in the field," Britkin tells Light Reading.
With headquarters in Germany and an R&D presence in Russia, NFWare belongs to a new breed of software vendors that are looking to capitalize on growing interest in virtualization among telecom operators. By turning network functions into software programs, and running them on cheap servers instead of specialized hardware gear, operators hope to slash their costs and develop a service agility they have previously lacked, making the transition to New IP networks.
While players like Affirmed Networks Inc. and Versa Networks are chasing virtualization opportunities in the EPC and SD-WAN markets, NFWare is specifically targeting high-performance IP routing -- a business that is currently dominated by the likes of Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) and Juniper Networks Inc. (NYSE: JNPR). It claims to have developed software that can process traffic at speeds of around 200 Gbit/s. "That is exceptional today in the market," says Britkin. (See NFV Made IoT Profitable for STC, Says Affirmed and Startup Versa Announces 'Carrier-Grade' Multi-Tenant NFV Platform.)
Others clearly see promise in the startup's offerings. NFWare has already raised a "six-digit" amount in funding from investors including Telefónica , Spain's incumbent operator. The company's non-financial support is already opening a lot of doors for NFWare, says Britkin. Moreover, its advisory board includes Dor Skuler, who founded CloudBand, Alcatel-Lucent's NFV orchestration business, before leaving Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU) (now a part of Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK)) at the end of 2014. (See AlcaLu Losing Key NFV Exec.)
NFWare is about to announce a second funding round, Britkin tells Light Reading, while it continues to work on its product portfolio. Currently, this includes carrier-grade NAT and load balancing functions, but the company plans to develop the load balancing product into a "fully fledged" application delivery controller. The ultimate goal, says Britkin, is "to commoditize all IP routing -- so all core routers and edge routers."