OmegaBand: A Tasty One for Cisco?

Startup's gateway could be a way for Cisco to get in on InfiniBand

August 30, 2001

3 Min Read
Network Computing logo

InfiniBand startup OmegaBand Inc., (not to be confused with the cheesy sci-fi flick OmegaMan, starring Charlton Heston) hopes to close a second round of funding by the fall.

Then again, it might not need to if the rumors we are hearing come through. OmegaBand is also said to be raising a few eyebrows at Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO).

So far, the network giant hasnt officially said what its position is on InfiniBand, but it's under increasing pressure to do so, now that excitement is building over the potential market for the technology.

It's probably no coincidence that several Cisco execs have been spotted cruising this week's Intel Developer Forum in San Jose, Calif., where InfiniBand is much in evidence (see InfiniBand Steals the Show).

Unsurprisingly Cisco downplays InfiniBand's potential as a networking fabric. “It should be good for server clustering and PCI bus replacements, but Ethernet addresses the other 90 percent of the market,” says Mark Cree, general manager of Cisco’s storage business unit.And that's what makes OmegaBand such a yummy one for Cisco. Any company proposing to link InfiniBand-enabled devices via Ethernet should get a big thumbs-up from Cisco (more food for the IP machine). And OmegaBand appears to be the only player shipping a product in this space today.

By the same token, companies proposing to network data center systems together via InfiniBand instead of Ethernet -- such as InfiniSwitch Corp. and QLogic Corp. (Nasdaq: QLGC) -- get a big thumbs down from Cisco.

Cree would not comment specifically on OmegaBand’s product, apart from saying: “We are always looking at new things. It doesn't mean we will do anything with them.”

Based in the InfiniBand Capital of Austin, Texas (Banderacom Inc., VIEO Inc., Lane15 Software, and Crossroads Systems Inc. [Nasdaq: CRDS] are all headquartered there), OmegaBand has built a pizza-box-sized gateway that can cluster together eight InfiniBand-enabled servers or storage devices and connect them to an Ethernet network.

It is debuting the IBgate 1000 at the Intel developer forum (see OmegaBand Joins InfiniBand). The second generation, expected early next year, will cluster as many as 64 InfiniBand-enabled servers and storage systems together.”The idea is to share high performance features like failover, loading balancing, and TCP-IP off-load capabilities between many servers rather than having to plug expensive NIC cards into each server,” says Brian Gardner, VP of business development at OmegaBand.

The reason the company ported the product to Ethernet rather than the dominant SAN protocol, Fibre Channel, is simple, says Gardner. “Companies want one connection for their storage and their network, and there are a lot more Ethernet ports out there than Fibre Channel, so it was the obvious way to go.” He doesn’t rule out porting the product to Fibre Channel, but it’s not currently on the roadmap.

As to whether the company is in talks with Cisco, Gardner says they are talking to everybody, noting, "Right now you need a lot of skill to play in the InfiniBand space, and Cisco doesn't have that."

OmegaBand has closed around $5 million in funding so far from Silicon-Valley VCs TeleSoft Partners

and InveStar Capital. The management and technical teams hail from the chip and systems businesses of IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM), Advanced Micro Devices (NYSE: AMD), Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT), and Sun Microsystems Inc. (Nasdaq: SUNW); and on the networking side, from 3Com Corp. (Nasdaq: COMS) and Lucent Technologies Inc. (NYSE: LU).

— Jo Maitland, Senior Editor, Byte and Switch

Stay informed! Sign up to get expert advice and insight delivered direct to your inbox

You May Also Like

More Insights