Home >> October 2008 Edition >> EXECUTIVE SPOTLIGHT ON - Dr. Alan Amir
CEO, Bivio Networks
by C. Karr

A modern day Renaissance man, living a broad and balanced life with many roles, from being a soldier to scholar to leader, Dr. Elan Amir has always been comfortable approaching life’s challenges. His passion, drive, and diversified background provide the CEO of Bivio a unique vision to shed light on a new networking technology — deep packet inspection. Through a discussion recently held with Dr. Amir, his thoughts on networking and his company reveal how the industry is changing… for the better.

As a technology that opens network packets, deep packet inspection (DPI) looks beyond the header to analyze and manipulate the information contained within the payload. Network packet headers do not expose details necessary to manage the network, such as security threats, intruders and data leaks, which are incorporated in the payload. DPI is needed to ensure security of the network while opening new vistas for service creation, by making it possible to provide levels of service based on specific types of protocols and requirements. For today’s satellite network, DPI enables network managers to observe and manage network flow, ensure the quality of service, and protect the network from security threats.

Dr. Amir uses his passion and drive to lead Bivio Networks with a unique vision and aggressive strategy that he developed at an early age. Bivio designs and produces performance network appliance platforms that enable the deployment of wire-speed DPI and processing applications.

Amir began his life in Israel. As a teen, he served as a sergeant in the Israeli army and says it was then that he learned the importance of making quick decisions and following through on them. “If you talk to any successful CEO, they will tell you the key to their success is a history of decisive action,” says Amir. “They may not always be taking the right action, but the important thing is to make a decision and learn from it.”

After the military, Amir’s life was a series of right actions. He enrolled at the University of California, Berkeley, where he earned his doctorate and masters degrees in computing science and a bachelor of science in electrical engineering and computing science. While at Berkeley, Amir would also form friendships he could call upon as he walked through life.

Upon graduation, Amir co-founded his first company, FastForward Networks, providing a foundation for his future work with Bivio Networks. After a year, he left to join Proxinet Inc., which was among the first mobile web browsing companies to be purchased during the dot com boom. He was ultimately recruited by Omnisky to lead and develop wireless technology. When Omnisky was sold to Earthlink.

Amir was prepared to leave the wireless area and return to his foundation in networking. As he transitioned into the corporate world, Amir leveraged the same skill set to become a strong leader of startups in Silicon Valley.

“The industry is seeing a new type of naked networking, or networking 2.0,” says Amir. “We are moving away from connectivity toward policies and devices that run software to inspect and manage the network.” in funding from Silver Creek Ventures. To reach that point, Bivio and Amir remain an innovative force in the industry. Bivio already boasts superior hardware performance, based on the flexibility of its Linux-based standard. The company’s flagship offering, the Bivio 7000, is capable of wire-speed packet processing at 10 gigabits per second.

Strategy and execution are nothing without vision. For Amir and Bivio Networks, the vision is simple: develop network devices able to compute vast amounts of information as part of the infrastructure. This vision enables Bivio Networks to supply customers such as SourceFire Inc., Arbor Networks Inc., Checkpoint Software Technologies, and Samsung Electronics, with a hardware appliance that can be used for a number of purposes, from traffic management and analytics to security applications.

According to Alex Mendez, founding general partner of Menlo Park-based Storm Ventures, and the Bivio Networks board chair, Amir’s strategies to achieve his vision are excellent. “Elan has sorted through the chess game of customer, OEM deals and partnerships; he gets a 10 out of 10 for judgment and common sense,” says Mendez.

The Bivio 7000 Series of Network Appliance Platforms is a family of compact, extremely high-performance, and fully programmable network appliances that combine a unique packet processing hardware architecture with a software platform that includes a standard Linux-based execution environment and a comprehensive set of networking features.

Designed specifically to provide wire speed deep packet processing, the Bivio 7000 Series architecture fuses network-processing components with application processing CPUs to deliver uncompromising performance and unmatched flexibility. The family includes two main product groups to deliver true line rate packet processing from 3 Gbps to 10 Gbps throughput.

“The evolution of networking is underway,” advises Amir. “We’re moving from connectivity to policy. The first generation of networking supplied connectivity, but networking 2.0 embraces policy.”

Amir stated that networking is moving from dumb pipes to smart pipes — or, more technically — from layers one-three to layers four-seven. In the past, network administrators had to depend on end-to-end security solutions. Now, with networking 2.0 and network-based devices, security services can be hosted directly on the network. “We are no longer concerned with switches and routers,” says Amir. “The future is DPI. And the future is now.”