DriveNets nets $262 million VC funding

Cloud-based routing software company takes hefty investment to grow customer base and develop "new technical solutions".

DriveNets has secured $262 million in new funding as it seeks to expand its business operations and take on new technology development. It views the investment as a major financial validation of its disaggregated networking platform.

The third round sum* brings the total invested in the company to $587 million, and follows second round funding in January 2021. Although it was unwilling to share its current valuation, DriveNets told TMN its “valuation post-round has more than doubled over the last round.”

A DriveNets press release said that the investment would “be used to develop future technology solutions, pursue new business opportunities, and expand the company’s global operations and support teams to support growing customer demand.”

We asked DriveNets what those new technology solutions might be. In written comments, CEO Ido Susan said, “Over the last year we have focused our development in two key areas:
• The DriveNets Network Cloud portfolio: the support of new networking capabilities and use cases (e.g. core, edge, aggregation, peering, etc.) For example, DriveNets Network Cloud was the first to support Broadcom Jericho 2C+ASIC and tripled its network scale on the same footprint, delivering the highest-density 400G routing platform.
• Development of new product offerings that address different types of network services and allow our customers to expand their service offerings and accelerate innovation.”

Telcos account for about 90 of the company’s 100 customers, with DriveNets unwilling to provide a breakdown of fixed/mobile/converged operators within that customer base. It announced at the end of June a range of hires from Juniper, Salesforce and Mavenir as it boosts its go-to-market capabilities, part of an overall increase of staff numbers of 30% over the past 20 months.

Hyperscale for networks

Founded in 2015 and with its roots sunk in the SDN-NFV vision of the early to mid 2010s, DriveNets has taken on the established router companies by developing disaggregated network cloud software that can run on whitebox hardware. The advantage, it says, of this approach is that operators can scale cost with traffic growth, deploy flexibly and share physical resources to support multiple services. Cisco has offered its OS as software for deployment on white boxes since 2018, with Juniper making its own announcement in 2015. AT&T announced in 2020 that it would use DriveNets as part of its new core network solution, which was based on OCP (Open Compute Project) hardware guidelines. CTO Andrew Feutsch who was leading the push for whitebox SDN in the operator’s core is set to leave AT&T, although the operator has said that its strategy will continue as it targets and end goal of RAN virtualisation.

DriveNets Network Cloud separates hardware from software, with the data plane disaggregated from the control plane and software running on standard networking white boxes from multiple original design manufacturers (ODMs). The company has been part of TIP and OCP programmes for open routing, verifying its software on platforms from hardware companies like EdgeCore and Delta.

Network Cloud comprises:

  • DriveNets Network Operating System (DNOS):
    a distributed cloud-based infrastructure and NOS that creates a shared networking and compute platform, supporting routing and third-party services instances (SIs) from core to edge
  • DriveNets Network Orchestrator (DNOR):
    an automation system for deploying, scaling and managing the solution
  • Standard networking white boxes
    standard white boxes based on merchant silicon – one for packet forwarding (NCP) and one for fabric (NCF).

* The round was led by D2 Investments with the participation of DriveNets’ current investors, including Bessemer Venture Partners, Pitango, D1 Capital, Atreides Management, and Harel Insurance Investments & Financial Services.