Infiot and Pluribus, Both F40 Companies, Acquired


By: R. Scott Raynovich

It's exciting times in cloud networking as Pluribus Networks and Infiot, two companies in our elite and predictive startup list – the Futuriom 40 – have been acquired within days.

On its conference call on Monday, public company Arista Networks announced it was acquiring Pluribus along with Untangle Inc., a security technology company. Arista CEO Jayshree Ullal, one of the most respected executives in the networking industry, described both deals as “small,” which must mean they were not gigantic exits. The purchase prices were not disclosed. Because Arista is a public company, it’s possible more information will come out in future public filings.

In a corporate blog, Arista's Anshul Sadana cited Pluribus and its Unified Cloud Fabric with its recent integration with NVIDIA's BlueField DPU, a type of SmartNIC, and its flexibility in connecting any devices at the edge:

"The Unified Cloud Fabric built-in analytics provides real-time contextual visibility across the fabric and one-click troubleshooting workflows across multiple domains, enabling NetOps, DevOps and CloudOps teams to effectively collaborate and rapidly on-board applications and tenants," wrote Sadana.

“Pluribus pioneered a new class of unified cloud fabric networking endorsed by our partners, Ericsson for telco and 5G cloud and NVIDIA for DPU-based networking,” said Ullal on the conference call.

So, Pluribus is a play for Arista to extend its cloud-networking capabilities.

Netskope Scoops Up Infiot

Netskope, a leading player in the zero trust network access (ZTNA) and Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) markets, announced today (Tuesday), that it’s acquiring Infiot, which will become part of Netskope’s Borderless WAN product. The terms of that deal were also not announced. Netskope was kind enough to mention our Futuriom 40 list in its press release.

Infiot was a pioneer in taking the concept of software-defined wide-area networking (SD-WAN) and ZTNA to extend secure, software-based overlays to applications and devices outside the typical enterprise network, including Internet of Things (IoT) devices.

As Netskope describes it:

“As Netskope Borderless WAN, the addition of Infiot's revolutionary technology will enable Netskope customers to apply uniform security and quality of experience (QoE) policies to the widest range of hybrid work needs, from employees at home or on-the-go, to branch offices, ad-hoc point-of-sale systems, and multi-cloud environments.”

Why Now?

For both companies, you might want to ask – why now? Pluribus, founded way back in 2010, was one of the early pioneers in the software-defined networking (SDN) market, which separated software-based networking control from the data forwarding function in hardware devices – enabling a “disaggregation” or separation of software control and hardware. Pluribus was unique in developing a “controllerless” architecture, meaning the software control was distributed across the network operating system (NOS) in each switch, rather than requiring a separate control component.

Pluribus and some of the early generation of SDN vendors such as Cumulus Networks (now owned by NVIDIA) had trouble gaining traction against established networking vendors such as Arista, Cisco, and Juniper Networks, which still have sales models heavily based on software and hardware integration. Pluribus did gain some early traction as a partner with Ericsson as the networking fabric for telecom networks, and then more recently as a partner with NVIDIA for SmartNICs.

Infiot is a much different story. The company only emerged from stealth in October of 2020, giving it a big exit in just two years. Co-Founder and CEO Parag Thakore (ex-Velocloud, VMware, and Cisco) described it at launch as a "cloud-native thin wireless edge." The fit with Netskope makes a lot of sense, as it enables Netskope to extend its security capabilities to any device or applications with software.

In an interview about the deal, Thakore told me he’s very excited, saying his look at Netskope technology has him convinced it’s the fastest cloud-based security network out there – competing with the likes of Cloudflare.

“I have been blown away by the performance of Netskope’s world-class security, including its DLP and threat engine,” Thakore said.

Start of a Flurry of Deals?

It's only natural that some consolidation is starting to happen in the cloud infrastructure and networking marketplace, and we expect a lot more. As we stated in our ZTNA report, released just last week, we expect to see an acceleration of action in the ZTNA market because of the high activity in the market and the number of startups.

In addition, periods of technology market downturns tend to accelerate M&A activity as larger players look to take advantage of better prices. It would make sense to see more deals in both cloud and networking throughout the rest of the year.

(Disclosure: Both Pluribus and Infiot were both clients of Futuriom's research services.)