Intellipath Dines on Brocade Leftovers

Ex-McData exec buys old CNT switching gear, hits the ground running

April 11, 2007

3 Min Read
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A former McData executive has launched a startup based on technology purchased from Brocade. (See Intellipath Acquires Switch Family.)

Peter Dougherty, ex-VP of McData's CNT integration team, who also oversaw McData's Sphereon and Eclipse products and worked in business development at the firm, has raised $6.5 million in Series A funding to start IntelliPath Corp. The funding covers the price of an old CNT/McData matrix switch product line called the Universal Connectivity System (UCS).

Actually, "old" is a misapplied adjective for UCS, which still has a significant following. Indeed, there are over 1 million ports of UCS installed, and IntelliPath's ready-made -- and partial -- customer list includes AT&T/BellSouth, Verizon, EMC, EDS, Sprint, Raytheon, Bank of America, Chevron, Dow Jones, and a range of other big names.

One of these, Brocade, had nothing to say about the sale of UCS, nor did a spokesperson respond to inquiries at press time. But the switching line is only one of the products that may be up for sale now that Brocade has revamped its wares following the McData integration. (See Brocade Closes Out McData.)

Challenges abound. Despite the impressive list of users, even Dougherty acknowledges that UCS, now dubbed the UCS 2900, may be perceived as an unsexy product in these heady days of more complicated virtualization. It is a large, automated patch panel for the physical connection of fiber and copper LAN, SAN, MAN, and WAN connections and interfaces. Its claim to fame is its ability to automate cable configuration in a network, streamlining physical-layer management and network testing."This technology enables us to remotely test, monitor and troubleshoot the network paths at all Okinawa sites from the Fort Buckner Technical Control Facility," said Michael Bennett, lead project manager for the 58th Signal Battalion at the U.S Army's Fort Buckner, in a prepared statement. "This saves valuable travel time during testing and results in improved services." The 58th Signal Battalion operates all Army electronic communications in the Pacific area as well as military inter-base communications for the Defense Department there.

That's impressive, but hasn't the dawn of consolidated data centers lessened the need for this kind of technology in corporate nets? No, Dougherty says. He concedes that the 4,000-port capacity of the UCS needs to be reduced into systems supporting smaller form factors -- 1,000-, 512-, and 256-port versions would be great, and development is underway. But he says new data center designs with multiple tiers of servers and storage need physical patching more than ever.

"The physical layer is an essential foundation," he says. "This is extremely complimentary with SANs and network infrastructure." There's still as much a need as ever to eliminate the tried-and-true -- and appallingly slow and cumbersome -- spreadsheet methods used by many in IT to manage cabling, he says.

IntelliPath opens to competition, most notably from Apcon Inc., which also offers matrix switches and patch panels for Fibre Channel and network interconnection. Further, Apcon has had the benefit of ongoing development while UCS was neglected.

Dougherty isn't daunted. "This is a great product line and we have the right investors... It's exciting to focus on these products and give them the attention they deserve."IntelliPath's funding came from L Capital Partners and Blueprint Ventures. The firm is headquartered in Lumberton, N.J. with 22 employees.

Mary Jander, Site Editor, Byte and Switch

  • AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T)

  • Brocade Communications Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: BRCD)

  • Electronic Data Systems Corp. (EDS) (NYSE: EDS)

  • EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC)

  • IntelliPath Corp.

  • McData Corp. (Nasdaq: MCDTA)

  • Raytheon Co.

  • Sprint Nextel Corp. (NYSE: S)

  • Verizon Communications Inc.

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