Out of Stealth Mode, Edge Computing Startup Pensando Wants to be a Giant Slayer

Amy Larsen DeCarlo – Principal Analyst, Security and Data Center Services

Summary Bullets:

• With John Chambers leading Pensando’s board as well as HPE making a big investment and stepping up as a partner, the startup is looking to make waves.
• The company has grand ambitions to play a major disruptor role–and the leadership and intellect with a potential to achieve them.

When a startup enters the IT landscape with the kind of backing that Pensando Systems has, the industry takes note. Founded in 2017 by Cisco veterans Mario Mazzola, Prem Jain, Luca Cafiero, and Soni Jiandani, the team behind a number of cutting edge products including the Nexus 9000 switch series, the company disclosed that it has secured third-round funding valued at $145 million from HPE and Lightspeed Venture Partners. Pensando also announced HPE CTO Mark Potter is joining the board of directors and that his company will be a key distribution partner for its technology.

Executives have begun making the rounds to provide some details around the technology the company has been developing and the transformational role it expects to play in the industry. Pensando has developed what it describes as a highly programmable software-defined edge services platform that can work with third-party technology to provide cloud, compute, networking, storage, and security services to edge and other locations. Underpinning this is a custom-designed data center chip designed to handle compute processing associated with storage, networking, and security. The chip runs on Ethernet adapters that can connect to a server to unburden the system’s primary processor of these functions. Pensando claims that this can lower CPU utilization by as much as 40%.

In a CNBC interview, company co-founder Jiandani likened the Pensando technology to the Android platform in that it will provide an open platform that can be used by a broad cross-section of customers and partners including HPE, Oracle, NetApp, and Goldman Sachs. In that same broadcast, Chambers said the company is going after an addressable market of $40 billion in annual revenues with a platform that he claims can deliver an astounding performance improvement of five to ten times what rival AWS’ Nitro System offers today for EC2 clients.

Chambers added that because the platform will allow for the consolidation of functionality, it will be appliance vendors that handle tasks such as load balancing and security that will be the first to feel the pain of Pensando’s disruption. But it is evident that is not the only sector Pensando has in its sights.

While specifics about the company, its technology, and go-to-market plans are still slowly emerging, there is major anticipation about the capabilities the company promises. The message the company is telegraphing is clear: Pensando is looking to play a major spoiler role in an industry with no shortage of disruptors.


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