Open source router
At the San Francisco offices of Panorama Capital, two dozen engineers, venture capitalists, and academics gathered around a nondescript piece of hardware they all helped build. Then Allan Leinwand, CEO of a stealthy Panorama-funded startup called Vyatta, powered up the device, the world's first open-source router. As one of the programmers downloaded Red Hat Linux to his laptop by way of the black box, the room erupted in handshakes and high fives.
A few months after the unveiling on that October day, Vyatta's router is about to go into beta release, and it will likely hit the market this summer. The machine runs on two Intel chips, but far more noteworthy is its software, known as XORP, or extensible open router platform. The versatile open-source application can direct data traffic for a giant corporation as easily as it can manage a home Wi-Fi network.
And that's what makes it as disruptive as a leaf blower in a feather factory: Vyatta's router will cost about a fifth the price of comparable models from big networking equipment makers such as Cisco Systems. "Open-source is providing real competition to the commercial telecom companies," says John Todd, an open-source telephony expert. "It will force them to improve."
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