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Telescent Inc., USA

Question 1: Describe the profound impact your technology – as part of an end-user product – has had on Society.  How has the population been impacted by your technology.  This could be behavioral, economical, societal, etc.
Data centers are the factories of tomorrow. Fiber optic networks are growing on a massive scale as video and social networking applications double the amount of Internet traffic each year. 1 Gbps FTTH, 100x faster than typical broadband, is now being deployed.  Data centers house >100K computers under a single roof and cover 1 million square feet of space, equivalent to 8 Home Depots. Google’s data centers consume over 300 million watts of electricity and cost in excess of $500M each. Imagine the challenge to manage your own PC and now multiply this by a million! It’s not surprising that according to HP, the cost to staff these facilities exceeds $200B/yr. NIST affirms that “managing the numerous configurations found within information systems and network components has become almost impossible using manual methods (Pub. 800-137)”. To address these challenges, Telescent automates the physical network to enhance efficiency and improve reliability.

Question 2: Tell us about how your technology is unique?  What makes it stand out? How do you differentiate it from other similar technologies?
To program the physical network, Telescent has developed an automatic, 1008x1008 port optical cross-connect switch. This system uses our sophisticated Knots and Braids Switching (KBS) algorithm, described in nine issued and twenty pending patents. A commodity robot “software-defines” the fiber optic links by physically routing fibers in a non-blocking way. The KBS algorithm enables the size, cost and complexity of our optical switch to scale as N, the number of interconnects, unlike crossbar switches that scale inefficiently as N^2. Telescent’s linear scaling characteristic is a revolutionary advance that manages and mitigates the exponential growth in data center complexity. Our system is an enabler of Software-Defined Networking (SDN), transforming the way networks are managed. In validation of our approach, Telescent was invited to speak at the recent Open Networking Summit 2013. Telescent’s technology extends SDN to the physical network layer-0, the most complex network layer.

Question 3: When first launched, did your technology make a transformational change for the end-user or incremental changes by improving a current technology?  Describe this.
Microsoft reports that 95% of data center bandwidth is wasted in today’s static networks. Telescent improves utilization by programmatically defining the physical topology based on the demands of the application layer. Telescent’s Network Topology Manager (NTM) automates the control of physical network connections to construct the optimal physical topology on an hourly or daily basis, also reducing downtime and human error. This new paradigm in operating data center networks has been demonstrated during our deployments at CERN and Verizon. Network agility results in significant utilization gains. The DoE and NSF have supported the development of Telescent’s NTM system since 2008, validating the transformative nature of our technology.

Question 4: Give a specific example (with company names) of the buying chain for your product/technology once you sell it to the next level buyer.  Provide an example of the succession of companies your product goes through, ultimately to get to an end-user.  Example:  We produce a component that we sell to a laser systems manufacturer (name the company) who sells it to a medical OEM (name the company), who then sells it to a hospital (name the hospital).
Telescent’s robotic cross-connect is the engine of our NTM solution,  an integrated hardware and software system. The NTM is early in the product life cycle and commercialized through a combination of direct and indirect sales. We sell directly to data center operators headquartered in North America and will sell internationally through distributors and resellers. In the US alone there are more than 400 multi-tenant data center operators like Equinix and CoreSite and mega data center operators like Amazon Web Services and Google. Port counts are growing at about 20% a year. The NTM addresses a massive market opportunity of over $1B.

Question 5: In which vertical market(s) would you classify the end-users of this technology?

Question 6: Give us your one sentence “elevator pitch” you would use to tell a non-technical person about your technology and the critical role it plays in Society.
Eliminate under-utilization, downtime and human error by automating the fiber optic network in data centers!

Question 7: Surprise Us!  What else should we know about your product/technology?
The Theory of Knots and Braids is more commonly used to study DNA folding in biology and fundamental particles in high energy physics. Telescent’s KBS algorithm represents optical fibers as strands organized into braids.  This representation is the basis for our deterministic algorithm, which reconfigures massive numbers of strands without entanglement.  The Telescent switch is the optical analog of a loom, in which arbitrary cross-connect patterns are woven into the interconnect fabric.

Additional information.

  2. Large Scale, All-Fiber Optical Cross-Connect Switches for Automated Patch-Panels (pdf)
  3. Software Defined Patch-Panels (ppt)