Top Talent Tackles Internet Infrastructure

SAN MATEO (06/12/2000) - Judy Estrin - who stepped down from her post as CTO of Cisco Systems Inc. in April, along with her husband and a team of top technologists -- on Monday announced the formation of a new company focused on solving Internet infrastructure challenges such as scalability and ease of use.

Packet Design's mission is to develop IP technologies to enhance the performance, scalability, and ease-of-use of the existing Internet infrastructure. Estrin said key design criteria behind IP -- openness, disturbed architecture, and the fact that applications run independently of the infrastructure -- have allowed the Internet to go through explosive growth.

"I am a big believer in IP and in the fundamental design philosophy behind IP, [which] has provided incredible levels of scalability. But now we are now asking the Internet to do things it was never designed to do. There are new types of content such as telephony [and] the scale brought upon by optics," Estrin said. "What is needed now is to evolve the current design, but not lose sight of the key attributes that got us where we are today."

The new venture will be based on a hybrid business model, Estrin said, which will allow the company to maintain its spirit of innovation, instead of losing that focus to the pressure of driving products to market quickly. Rather than selling its technology developments as products, Packet Design will either license technology to equipment vendors or will spin out separate businesses that will develop and sell the products, according to Estrin. Being very time-to-market focused takes away from innovation time, she said.

"What led to the founding of Packet Design was a realization that there is an architectural vacuum right now, in that product companies -- because of Internet time -- are very time-to-market focused. So a lot of the solutions being offered for key problems areas are either point product solutions or short-term solutions that won't scale," Estrin said. "We have built a team of people to be able to [look] under where problems are and suggest solutions that will scale over the long term. Our business model is different [in order] to optimize how we solve these problems. We are not a product company but a technology company."

Initially, the company will develop software-based technology designed to scale IP. Estrin said the first implementations will focus on scaling routing technology and will look at how routing is used with optical technologies.

Other areas the company will address include security and architectural and technology issues with wireless and mobility.

Packet Design will develop solutions for both enterprises and service providers, and Estrin said it expects to announce spin out companies or licensing agreements within one to two years.

Joining Estrin are her husband Bill Carrico, who will serve as chairman of the board; former Cisco chief scientist Van Jacobson, who will be chief scientist; and Douglas Klien, who will be vice president of business development. MCI WorldCom Inc.'s Vint Cerf will be a member of the company's technical advisory board.

Packet Design Inc., in Menlo Park, California, is at www.packetdesign.com.

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