Anagran helps the Internet handle growth in streaming media.
By Larry Aragon
Founding date: 2004
Funding amount: $40 million
As a Pentagon researcher in the 1960s, Lawrence Roberts led development of what became the Internet. But breaking information into packets that could take numerous redundant network paths “wasn’t designed for streaming media,” Roberts says. Network routers treat packets equally and can delay or drop them; this means blips and dead spots in voice and video.
Roberts’ s company, Anagran, promises a fix. Its technology, which prescreens data before it enters a router, can tell that certain packets belong to streaming media and give them priority. (Or it can lower their priority, if the goal is to limit file sharing.) Anagran’s approach is different from that taken by Roberts’s previous company, Caspian Networks, which shut down in 2006 after consuming more than $300 million in venture capital. Caspian made a large, expensive router that required costly network redesigns. Anagran’s device, by contrast, plugs into existing routers to handle up to four million simultaneous data or media streams.
Last year, Anagran started shipping products to government and university customers seeking to ensure that peer-to-peer file sharing doesn’t overwhelm their networks. (The technology is better at identifying peer-to-peer traffic than an existing technology called deep packet inspection, which can miss encrypted files, Anagran says.) Warren Packard, who invested in Anagran for Draper Fisher Jurvetson, says the technology will be critical to future Internet growth, “especially when you consider its impact on real-time streams that require high quality of service.”