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By: Gigaom
July 02, 2012 at 10:53 AM EDT
Networking startup Plexxi scores $20.1M
Plexxi Systems, a stealthy networking startup that wants to bring fiber into the data center at a cost the comprable to existing Ethernet technologies, has scored a $20.1 million third round of financing from Lightspeed Venture Partners, Matrix Partners and Northbridge Venture Partners.

Fiber may not just be for undersea and long-haul networks anymore.

Plexxi Systems, a stealthy networking startup that wants to bring fiber into the data center at a cost comparable to existing Ethernet technologies, has scored a $20.1 million third round of financing from Lightspeed Venture Partners, Matrix Partners and Northbridge Venture Partners.

Plexxi has been around since 2010 and has raised a total of $48.48 million from the current investors to build a switch that uses fiber optics instead of the current Ethernet connections. The money will help bring Plexxi’s product to market as it is making the rounds at large webscale and cloud providers showing off its switch.

The company has recently spent a little more time sharing the details of its switch, and the associated software that networks the switches, with prospective customers and the press. It also launched a private beta and says it will continue sharing more details on its products and plans. For more, read my story on Plexxi from mid-June. Here’s an excerpt:

Like many, Plexxi is addressing the networking market, specifically the idea that the next generation of networking has to have a flat architecture and adapt to the needs of applications on demand. However, unlike the companies that view the problem as one requiring OpenFlow or a software-defined network that can work on commodity networking gear, Plexxi wants to sell a smarter box. In this way it’s closer to the Ciscos and Junipers of the world.

Plexxi is selling a top-of-rack switch that contains both a fabric-like management software as well as a fiber-optics component that can transmit packets faster than the current 10 GigE ports. For those who follow the fiber world, such a statement may seem a bit insane. Fiber is not cheap and the biggest reason it’s not used in data centers is because it can cost ten to 100 times more than current Ethernet technologies.

As I said in that story, we’ll have to see if Plexxi can solve issues such as the high-power consumption associated with most optical technology as well as provide a way to get to a Plexxi-style network without dumping your old gear. Clearly, its investors are excited.

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