Aussie networking startup opens its gear to US

Brisbane company exhibits at Boston Linux conference

Australian startup Opengear is out to woo system administrators and network managers at the LinuxWorld conference held in Boston recently, showcasing networking products developed in its Brisbane lab.

At the recent LinuxWorld expo in Sydney, Opengear pre-released two open source solutions — the SDTConnector software tool and the new CM4001 console server. In Boston, the products were presented to the world.

The CM4000 product line targets system administrators and network managers who are controlling Linux, Windows and Sun servers, and routers/firewalls in small or large data-centres, says Bob Waldie, chairman at Opengear.

The newly released CM4001 runs an embedded Linux (uClinux) kernel. It remotely manages one serial and ten LAN connected systems, and is priced at A$445 (NZ$534). The CM4148, with 48 serial and 50 LAN system connections, is priced at A$2,195 (NZ$2,632).

SDTConnector is completely open source, Waldie says. It is a Windows and Java wizard that helps configuring SSH connections to tunnel other services securely across the internet. These include Microsoft’s Remote Desktop Protocol, open source VNC (UltraVNC, TightVNC, RealVNC), HTTP and Telnet.

At the same time as releasing the SDTConnector, Opengear also kicked off a new SourceForge project.

As a result of its presence at LinuxWorld Sydney, Opengear already has developers from another company — who saw it at the expo — contributing to this new project.

Opengear competes with companies such as Digi International, Raritan and Cyclades. The latter two were also at the Sydney LinuxWorld expo.

Raritan showcased several products, including the CommandCentre NOC 250 and CommandCentre NOC 250.

The products monitor corporate networks. Built on an embedded Linux OS, and incorporating OpenNMS to identify devices on a network, and Snort, to sniff packets, the NOC products are designed give administrators a top-down view of an organisation’s network.

Opening up

Opengear’s founders and developers have been open source and embedded Linux players since the company’s inception.

“We set the Opengear company up some 18 months [ago], with a business plan based on building both open source software and open source hardware platforms — and so far it is going and growing well,” Waldie says.

The company has an interesting setup. It is a US entity but an Australian company, with its developers housed in its i.Lab office in Brisbane, says Waldie, whose previous ventures include Snapgear, Moreton Bay Ventures and Stallion.

“The executives are all Australian and we manage the business from Brisbane.”

Of the shareholders, 82% are Australian, with 18% being held by a group of venture capitalists from the East Coast of the US who provided some seed funding.

“So, the wealth we create will remain here in Australia.”

Although based in Australia, 90% of the company’s sales are international, with more than 50% in the US, then Germany, Japan and China.

“Opengear is an engineering, not marketing company, and we have a very technical sales/value proposition, so we target technical audiences. Most LW conference attendees are technoid,” he says.

At this stage, the company has only a small channel in the US, with most of its sales being to university campuses “as system administrators at universities want the best value technical solution and they are less risk-averse”. The rest of the world — Europe, Asia, South America — is managed from Brisbane.

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