With LonoCloud Acquisition, ViaSat Gets Head Start on New Technology

4/17/13Follow @bvbigelow

There weren’t many details in the statement that ViaSat (NASDAQ: VSAT) issued last week, after the Carlsbad, CA-based specialist in satellite-based communications technologies acquired LonoCloud, a San Diego startup founded two years ago.

ViaSat said it would integrate core components of LonoCloud’s Platform as a Service (PaaS) technology with its broadband network, which includes its satellite-based Exede and WildBlue residential Internet businesses based in Colorado. No price was disclosed.

“We were at a crossroads,” LonoCloud’s Tom Caldwell said in a recent interview. “We either had to raise more funding or we had this customer that was interested in acquiring the technology.”

LonoCloud’s technology links both private data centers and open-source cloud service providers to create a federation of cloud service providers with much-improved capabilities for scalability, fault tolerance, performance management, and information privacy and security. The company says its software system contains sophisticated, distributed mesh algorithms that create a network foundation for enterprise services and applications to interact and communicate with one another. This next-generation cloud computing architecture runs as an overlay to enterprise network environments, enabling low-cost, distributed computing across multiple servers in the cloud. The technology, as Caldwell told me last fall, basically enables cloud services providers to provide mutual back-up, creating “bullet-proof” cloud services.

ViaSat, as it turns out, was one of LonoCloud’s two largest customers—and Steve Hart, who is ViaSat’s chief technical officer and a co-founder, was among the angel investors in the startup’s initial funding of $1.5 million. As ViaSat’s CTO, Hart guides the company’s technology in such areas as network architecture, software, and information security. Much of the company’s estimated $1 billion in annual revenue is generated from contracts with the federal government.

ViaSat was already engaged with LonoCloud in a project to provide broadband services to consumers, said Caldwell, who was serving as LonoCloud’s CEO. (Hossein Eslambolchi, a former AT&T chief technology officer who was named as CEO last September, had stepped back into an advisory role for family reasons, Caldwell said.)

“They don’t have a cloud platform today,” Caldwell said. “They were going to implement one when we came along.”

The acquisition fit in other ways as well, Caldwell said.

LonoCloud’s technology was conceived by Ingolf Krueger, an associate professor in computer science and engineering at UC San Diego. Krueger stayed on with UCSD, however, while the company used its initial $1.5 million in funding to validate the commercial feasibility of the technology and to build LonoCloud’s core business and technical teams. As part of the acquisition, Krueger plans to join ViaSat after the academic quarter has ended, along with nearly all of LonoCloud’s 11 employees.

Caldwell, who joined LonoCloud from Cisco, says he has embarked on a new San Diego startup with Eslambolchi called CyberFlow Analytics, which was officially incorporated last month. Caldwell says the company is developing computer security technology that can be provided as software-as-a-service (SaaS), using “smart” packet inspection and big data analytics. They are calling it “cyber intelligence as a service.”

Bruce V. Bigelow is the editor of Xconomy San Diego. You can e-mail him at bbigelow@xconomy.com or call (619) 669-8788 Follow @bvbigelow

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