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Startup Of The Week: Vyatta's Open Source Router Takes On Cisco

Founder believes open source can transform the proprietary routing market.

Open source proponents love a good fight. In Vyatta's case, the opponent is Cisco Systems. Vyatta argues that open source software and Intel hardware are perfectly suitable for routing. The company is storming Cisco's gates with venture capital, free code, a volunteer army of developers, and Red Hat's business model. --Andrew Conry-Murray

VYATTA


Allan Leinwand, CEO Vyatta

Leinwand opens up routing for the world

HEADQUARTERS: Belmont, Calif.

PRODUCT: VC4 network operating system, Vyatta 514 and Vyatta Dell 860 network appliances

PRINCIPALS: Allan Leinwand, founder; Kelly Herrell, CEO

INVESTORS: ArrowPath Venture Partners, Panorama Capital, Velocity Interactive Group, Comcast Interactive Capital

EARLY CUSTOMERS: Chameleon Power, Florida State University


THE BIG IDEA
"There's a myth that you need proprietary hardware to move packets from one place to another," says founder Leinwand. Moore's Law means commodity hardware continually gets more powerful and less expensive. Meanwhile, an open source platform can attract a passionate community to foster the product and provide ongoing innovation.

BUSINESS CASE
Vyatta takes a page from Red Hat. The routing software is free to download, test, and tweak. The company claims more than 150,000 downloads and counting. There are two potential hooks to attract customers--an excellent price/performance ratio and the ability to avoid vendor lock-in. Vyatta's revenue comes from support contracts and sales of appliances that are preloaded with the network OS. The company wouldn't say how many of those downloads have translated into service contracts.

PEDIGREE
Leinwand was an early Cisco employee. He's a partner at Panorama Capital and an adjunct professor at U.C. Berkeley. Herrell was an exec at MontaVista Software and Cobalt Networks, among others.

INNER WORKINGS
The Vyatta software supports all major routing protocols, including IPv4, OSPFv2, BGPv4, RIPv2 and static routes. Administrators can choose from a variety of quality-of-service options. In addition to routing, the software supports network address translation and has firewall and IPsec VPN capabilities. A command line and GUI are available, and it supports syslog and SNMP version 2. As with other open source products, users have full access to the source code and can configure it to their liking.

TIMELINE
Timeline Chart

This was updated May 12 to correct the name of Panorama Capital in the Pedigree section.

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