CS Startup Watch: Ensuring Internet Stability at Veriflow Systems
Today’s enterprise networks can be unruly, complex beasts made up of thousands of devices from different vendors performing diverse functions, such as routing, switching, and access control across physical and virtual networks. They are prone to errors that can result in loss of service and security vulnerabilities.
The company’s product, Veriflow, automatically verifies a network’s data plane—the workhorse of switching elements that are critical to moving data over the Internet. The tool scans a network, constructs a model of its behavior, and uses proprietary algorithms to automatically detect network inconsistencies or errors.
Veriflow’s algorithms can perform real-time analysis on networks employing a software-defined networking architecture—a rapidly emerging architecture that centralizes and simplifies control of a network. In the process, it assesses a network’s security and proper functioning dynamically, finding problems in less than a millisecond, before they disrupt network service and potentially result in lost revenue.
Godfrey and Caesar started their company with a grant from the Navy’s Small Business Innovation Research program. “From the beginning I thought our technology was quite practical and useful,” said Godfrey, who expects that their work verifying real-world networks will help them discover real-world challenges in verification that feed back into research. “The Navy SBIR jump-started [the commercialization] process.”
Veriflow Systems is headquartered at the U of I Research Park’s EnterpriseWorks.
“The university has helped us a lot,” said Godfrey, noting that the campus has helped them file a key patent, arrange meetings with venture capitalists, and establish mentor-type relationships with successful local entrepreneurs. “On the whole, the university is actively encouraging startups.”
In addition to Caesar, who is president, and Godfrey, who is CEO, Veriflow Systems employs four, including Ahmed Khurshid, whose doctoral thesis was a driving force behind the company’s technology.
“I’ve been surprised at how much fun it is to run a company,” said Caesar. “I’ve really enjoyed the process because we have such a great set of resources across campus, including the EnterpriseWorks.”