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Plexxi pulls in another $20 million, to help networks and applications 'crack a beer and get along'

Posted by Scott Kirsner  June 29, 2012 07:30 AM

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In today's cloud-oriented technology world, everyone expects that applications, servers, and storage have become on-demand resources. You should be able to use them like a Slurpee machine, turning them on or off at will, and choosing either an extra-large or a small, depending on your current needs.

And yet, says, Plexxi co-founder Mat Matthews, the communication networks that move all that data around are "still really rigid. Applications have become fluid, but networks haven't really adapted to that." The company is developing new software and networking hardware that can help networks adapt to the demands of the applications their users are running, whether they need extra bandwidth, low latency, or extra-strict security.

The company is announcing a new infusion of venture capital funding today: $20.1 million, bringing the total amount the startup has raised to just over $48 million. This third round of funding came from North Bridge Venture Partners and Matrix Partners in Waltham, as well as Lightspeed Venture Partners in Silicon Valley. The company's most recent venture round happened last summer.

In July, Matthews says, the company plans to start its first wave of beta tests, "starting first with cloud providers and also some financial customers, like big banks and hedge funds." Plexxi's product should be commercially available later this year or in early 2013, he says.

The company has 30 employees, and expects to be at about 45 by the end of the year. Employees are split between offices in Cambridge and Nashua, New Hampshire. "Nashua is perfect for datacomm and networking talent, but the other aspect of what we're doing is software that understands network topologies, advanced analytics, and visualization techniques. That talent pool is really around Kendall Square and MIT." (They consider Cambridge the company's headquarters.)

Plexxi calls its approach "affinity-based networking," and its web site cleverly suggests that it allows networks and applications to simply "crack a beer and get along."

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Innovation and technology news that matters, on a new website from the Boston Globe, featuring Scott Kirsner and other original reporting.

About Scott Kirsner

Scott Kirsner was part of the team that launched in 1995, and has been writing a column for the Globe since 2000. His work has also appeared in Wired, Fast Company, The New York Times, BusinessWeek, Newsweek, and Variety. Scott is also the author of the books "Fans, Friends & Followers" and "Inventing the Movies," was the editor of "The Convergence Guide: Life Sciences in New England," and was a contributor to "The Good City: Writers Explore 21st Century Boston." Scott also helps organize several local events on entrepreneurship, including the Nantucket Conference and Future Forward. Here's some background on how Scott decides what to cover, and how to pitch him a story idea.

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