Secretive startup Procket leaks info

Procket Networks Inc., the secretive startup that's building next-generation IP infrastructure equipment, is slowly emerging from hiding.

The company founded three years ago to develop high-speed packet processors has raised US$272 million after three rounds of funding. It is developing systems that are in various stages of trial with 15 to 20 global carriers. These trials will continue throughout the year, the company says.

Procket Wednesday added two people to its board of directors: founder and Chief Scientist Tony Li, a highly regarded routing software engineer who helped design Cisco's market-leading Internet routers; and Network Appliance CEO Dan Warmenhoven, a longtime computer and network industry veteran.

Yet the company remains secretive about its products and their availability. Industry insiders think Procket is developing a high-speed backbone routing system that will compete against products from Cisco Systems Inc. and Juniper Networks Inc.

But instead of "limiting" Procket within the context of the next maker of a hot IP box, the company would rather be considered the designer of a reliable multiservice packet network architecture, says President and CEO Randall Kruep.

"[We're] developing a new networkwide architecture," Kruep says. "We're really driving the availability, consistency and predictability of the network. Our vision and intent is to play networkwide."

Availability of products to support this architecture will be disclosed later this year, he says.

"We've passed through most of the serious gates in terms of risk and we're feeling very comfortable, but we still have a substantial amount of work to do in order to engage the market," Kruep says.

The company's investors do not include carriers or vendors - as is the case with Juniper - but Procket will have "significant" partnerships with these parties, and will disclose them at a later date, Kruep says.

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