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Brocade Spinout Takes On 'Rat's Nest' Of Data-Center Cables

The venture-backed company pitches returns from labor savings and higher utilization

As most tech vendors focus on high-level tools for virtualization and system management to make data centers more efficient, one startup sees an opportunity in the more humble pursuit of organizing the tangle of cables running in and out of machines.

IntelliPath launches this week as a venture-funded spinout from networked storage vendor Brocade. IntelliPath bought the technology from Brocade and brings over a development team who has worked on the product. The products provide one hub for servers, mainframes, storage, and networking equipment, for fiber and copper environments. Data center managers can then reconfigure that "physical layer" -- to add equipment, replace broken gear, or do disaster recovery testing -- using software rather than physically rewiring.

"In any data center, you have a rat's nest of cables," said CEO and president Peter Dougherty in an interview. Companies get returns through labor and time savings and increased utilization, such as making it easier to use test equipment across a network, he said.

A system can cost from several hundred thousand to several million dollars. The growth opportunity is adding more software on that platform and offering a lower-cost system for smaller or remote data centers, Dougherty said. There's also more competition for smaller systems, with companies such as Cornet Technology.

Part of the $6.5 million in venture funding IntelliPath raised went to buy the technology from Brocade, though the companies didn't release terms of the sale. Brocade got the technology when it acquired McData, which had picked it up through a deal for CNT in 2005.

Investors L Capital Partners and Blueprint Ventures put up the venture stake. Such spinouts from larger companies like this are Blueprint's main focus. Its biggest recent payday came when Landesk, spun out from Intel with backing from several venture investors, was bought by Avocent for more than $400 million.

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