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A company spokesperson said the new device to come from the two-year-old startup, formerly known as Network Robots, will replace routers, firewall boxes, VPN boxes, and any other box built upon an ASIC-based architecture running static rules that can be found in a datacentre or at the network edge of a service provider.
According to Junaid Islam, CEO of Bivio, which is Italian for crossroads, the company does not foresee Cisco or Nortel taking the programmable network device approach anytime soon.
"We are challenging Cisco's very business model," Islam said. "Network devices today do one thing. The next step is an open networking device that can run a wide array of programs."
Bivio's open and programmable, Bivio 1000, went into beta trials with eight customers this week. Currently, Telindus Group, a systems integrator based in Belgium, is using the product, Islam said. The Bivio 1000 will sell for around $50,000 and is due for general release in May 2002.
Based on a proprietary technology, dubbed eXpressLANE, Islam said the device is a cross between a server and a high-speed networking device that runs at gigabit speeds.
He added that the Bivio 1000 runs multiple applications simultaneously while maintaining speeds equivalent to Cisco System's high-end Layer 3 routers.
But speed isn't what sets Bivio apart from the crowd, Islam said. Its uniqueness lies in its ability to run multiple applications on a single device. For example, the device could run firewall software, quality of service applications, and even routing engines simultaneously or independently.
And if a service provider wanted the device to do something different, it could reprogram the Bivio 1000 with any software the provider wanted to run.
Islam said he envisions service providers using the device in different ways. He said some of them will run a few devices as dedicated routers, while others will run multiple applications on the device simultaneously. Islam declined to comment on the specifics of how the device maintains gigabit line rates while processing multiple applications simultaneously.
Islam did say the Bivio device does not require any special commands and can process a normal server command in 10 nanoseconds. In comparison, a server takes two to three microseconds.