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Deal Radar 2009: Force10 Networks

Posted on Monday, Dec 21st 2009

Founded in 1999, Force10 Networks builds and secures high-performance networks. The company develops and manufactures switching and routing equipment including switches/routers, line cards, resilient switches, access switches, and security appliances. Formerly known as nCore Technologies, the company is headquartered in San Jose, California.

A major player in the 10 Gigabit Ethernet(GbE) market, Force10 has a TeraScale E-Series of switches and routers that are designed to ensure predictable application performance, increase network availability, and reduce operating costs. In December 2009, the company introduced 10 Gigabit Ethernet (10 GbE) and GbE line cards that can be used within ExaScale virtualized core switches/routers. The 10-port 10 Gigabit Ethernet (GbE) line card provides support for SR, LR, ER, ZR, and CX4 interfaces using pluggable XFP transceiver modules. The line card is suitable for data centers as well as in WAN and long-haul optical networks. The 50-port GbE line card supports a pluggable SFP module that supports SX, LX, ZX, and 1000Base-T interfaces. Its high density allows the ExaScale switch/router to support up to 700 line-rate GbE SFP ports in a single chassis. While the 10-port 10GbE starts at $66,000, the price for the 50-port 10/100/1000 Base-T line card starts at $42,000.

Force10’s clients include media companies, Web 2.0 companies, Internet exchanges, financial institutions, search engines and portals, manufacturing organizations, service providers, rural local exchange carriers, utilities, transport providers, and research networks. In November 2009, NYSE Euronext selected Force10 to supply a 10G Ethernet network to manage the exchange’s data centers in New Jersey and London. Though the value of the Force10 contract was not disclosed, the company was part of a $500 million data center upgrade. Further, Los Alamos National Laboratory uses the Force10 TeraScale E-Series switch/router to serve as the supercomputer’s high-speed Ethernet interconnect network. Apart from powering the fastest supercomputer in North America, the company provides critical Ethernet interconnect functionality to the fastest supercomputers in Europe and Asia and powers 10 of top 20 and 14 of top 50 fastest supercomputers worldwide.

According to industry analyst firm IDC, two million 10 GbE ports will be deployed in data centers around the world in 2010, and data center Ethernet switching revenue is expected to grow at a CAGR of 8% to reach $6.4 billion in 2012. While Cisco clearly leads the race, Force10 also faces competition from companies such as Foundry (now part of Brocade), Juniper Networks, Arista Networks, Woven, and Blade Network Technologies. Force10 has upped the ante with the introduction of the ExaScale E-Series family of switches/routers. Also, although Cisco’s Nexus and Force10’s TeraScale platforms both currently have higher oversubscribed port density, vendors in the 10GbE space will have to respond with technical, marketing, or pricing initiatives to match Force10 ExaScale E-Series’ performance and expandability.

Force10 is thus in a solid position to take on competitors. The company was ranked number 3 in the communications/networking category of the 2009 Deloitte Technology Fast 500™ program and number 10 in Deloitte LLP’s ranking of the 500 fastest-growing technology, media, telecommunications, life sciences, and clean technology companies in North America. Further, the company’s third quarter revenues for the period ending June 30, 2009, increased 24% from the previous quarter and grew more than 200% in 10 GbE shipments from Q2 to Q4.

In January 2009, the company announced that it would merge with Turin Networks. Under the deal, the two companies are operating under the name of Force10 Networks. Further, Henry Wasik, president and CEO of Turin Networks, became the president and CEO of the combined entity after the completion of merger in April. Former president and CEO of Force 10 networks James Hanley assumed the role of president of field operations with responsibility for sales, marketing, services, and business development. According to GigaOM, the two companies are estimated to have a total revenue of nearly $100 million and that the companies have raised hundreds of millions of dollars, with Force 10 Networks alone raising $113 million in venture capital. Om Malik, founder of GigaOM, also said that the total revenues won’t be enough for the combined company to keep all 900 employees on the payroll.

Suggested Reading:
*Sector Overview: Networking
*3Com Is Now REALLY Going After Cisco

This segment is a part in the series : Deal Radar 2009

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Force 10 has raised lot more than $113 million till now.

May be you are referring to the very last round..

Muhammad Sunday, January 3, 2010 at 12:15 AM PT