February 2010

Mancala Networks has been awarded the Grand Prize for innovation in the category Software and Systems at the Tremplin Entreprises 2010

tremplin Entreprises Marc Rozier, CEO of Mancala Networks : “It is a great encouragement for our young start-up! To think that a group industry leaders in entrepreneurship, finance and research agreed to award us this prize is in and of itself a strong recognition! We recognize the importance of this award. I’ve received calls from the entire team: they are all very enthusiastic!”
Mancala Networks is a very young enterprise. Created the 12th of November 2009, Mancala Networks offers a network services integration platform for enterprise network management and control.

The customer need and Mancala Network’s solution

In large enterprises (or institutions), the majority of employees access key enterprise applications from outside of the corporate headquarters at tens, hundreds or even thousands of branch offices and from a rapidly growing number of devices. The availability, performance and security of these branch office networks has become business critical for corporations. In order to secure, monitor and optimize these branch office networks, enterprises rely on a multitude of partial, heterogeneous solutions (IP address management, network access control, intrusion detection, application acceleration, …). This reliance on point solutions multiplies the number of servers deployed at branch offices, the number of management interfaces juggled by overstretched IT teams, and the amount of custom integration that must be performed to create a working solution. This leads to a very high CAPEX and OPEX to implement a full network control solution. In addition, the piecemeal nature of the currently available solutions fragment management and security policies making it difficult to ensure consistent, global policies and to achieve global visibility while scaling to hundreds of sites.

The Mancala Networks team’s mission is to enable these enterprises to truly manage and control their network as a NETWORK (not each service individually) and to reduce their costs by offering an integrated network control software platform that is open, modular and scalable.

Goals and management team

Marc Rozier, CEO, expressed it this way : “By introducing this platform, called the Network Controller, we hope to position ourselves as the leader of a new wave of network infrastructure consolidation and to obtain a significant share of the market for enterprise network control solutions. Marc began his career as a researcher at INRIA and went on to co-found Chorus Systems (acquired by Sun Microsystems in 1998). In addition, he has served on the management teams and boards of several high tech start-ups.

Alan Dekok, founder of the FreeRADIUS open source project and an active member of the IETF (organization responsible for the standardization of internet protocols) had the idea for the project when he was confronted with the difficulties that enterprises face when trying to deploy and manage their networks. Alan is recognized worldwide for his contributions to the creation of security solutions for IP networks (FreeRADIUS is the most widely used authentication server in the industry). Alan, as CTO, leads Mancala Networks technical team.

Rory Higgins brings his experience in marketing and international business development to the young company. After working in the US and Japan, Rory moved to France in 1995 as the first employee to start the European services organization of Firepond, a CRM and interactive selling software company before moving on to Quiconnect where he was responsible for operations and business development.

Experience and strategic research partnerships

Four engineers, experts in software development and networking, complete the founding team : Jean-Michel Bonnefond, Fabien Gauthier, Simon Pasquier and Michael Rigoni.

The company has also established a close relationship with the DRAKKAR team from the Grenoble Computer Science Laboratory (LIG – Laboratoire d’Informatique de Grenoble). Led by Andrej Duda, this team is recognized for its contributions to the study and evolution of communication networking technologies, in particular in wireless and sensor networks. In these areas, scalability and security are essential. The partnership covers activities including the verification and validation of the capacity of the Mancala solution to meet its scalability targets and the introduction of innovative security management solutions.

The connection to the DRAKKAR team from the LIG made the project elegible for incubation within GRAIN (Grenoble Aples Incubation). Grain brings strategic assistance to the team, most notably in the preparation of its supporting documentation for the innovation contests (Mancala submitted its candidature to 2010 contest of the Ministry of Research in the category of Creation and Development), the review of its financial and business plans and general assistance to the management team.

The next steps : marketing strategy and fund raising. The Grand Prize comes at an opportune moment in our fund raising activities as it will help increase our visibility within the financial community just as we are beginning the process.

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