Sentient Networks, Inc., was an American networking hardware company that manufactured of Asynchronous Transfer Mode (ATM) and Frame Relay concentrators and switches for central offices.[1][2]: 36  Founded in 1995 in Sarasota, Florida, the company soon after moved to San Jose, California. It was acquired by Cisco Systems in 1999.

Sentient Networks, Inc.
Company typePrivate
IndustryComputer networking
Founded1995; 29 years ago (1995) in Sarasota, Florida, United States
Defunct1999; 25 years ago (1999)
FateAcquired by Cisco Systems
HeadquartersSan Jose, California, United States
Number of employees
102 (1999)



Sentient Networks was founded in 1995 by Nimish Shah, who previously an employee of Loral Data Systems in Sarasota, Florida, before the latter subsidiary was shut down.[3][4] He founded Sentient in Tampa Bay, Florida; the company soon saw venture capital backing from companies such as Sequoia Capital Accel Partners, AT&T, and Ameritech.[5] By late 1996, the company employed 35 and had leased a 6,000-square-foot building in Sarasota for its headquarters and a 1,000-square-foot facility in San Jose, California, as a regional office. In September 1996, the company moved its entire operations to a 26,000-square-foot facility in San Jose.[3]

Sentient made products for Internet service providers, interexchange carriers, and Regional Bell Operating Companies. It developed the industry's highest-density ATM Circuit Emulation Service (CES) gateway.[4] The company's first successful product was the Ultimate 1000 network switch, which incorporated the company's new proprietary Any Service/Any Port architecture, allowing individual parts to be configured as ATM or Frame Relay switches. Released in 1996, it was purportedly the first product to comply fully with the ATM Forum's "Anchorage Accord" specification.[1] Sentient negotiated an OEM agreement with DSC Communitations in 1997 for their Ultimate 1000.[6]

Cisco Systems, also of San Jose, announced their intent to acquire on April 8, 1999.[7] Sentient at that point had 102 employees; its CEO was Greg McAdoo.[8] Sentient's employees joined the Multi-Service Switching business unit (MSSBU) of Cisco, which was the part of Cisco created by their acquisition of StrataCom.[8] The acquisition was finalized on June 25, 1999, with Sentient receiving $125 million.[9]


  1. ^ a b Wirbel, Loring (May 5, 1997). "Sentient adds IP services to central-office switch". Electronic Engineering Times (952). CMP Publications: 76 – via ProQuest.
  2. ^ Bisby, Adam (February 2, 1998). "ATM backbone boosts access to network". Computer Dealer News. 14 (4). Plesman Publications: 1, 36 – via ProQuest.
  3. ^ a b Abercrombie, Paul (September 6, 1996). "Telecom parts maker to leave Bay Area". Tampa Bay Business Journal. American City Business Journal. Archived from the original on February 20, 2006.
  4. ^ a b Snyder, Beth (December 2, 1996). "Switch vendors with a cause: Sentient takes aim at carrier access establishment". Telephony. 231 (23). Intertec Publishing: 50 – via ProQuest.
  5. ^ Harmon, Steve (December 1997). "Venture capital pours into Internet". Upside. 9 (11): 176 – via ProQuest.
  6. ^ Snyder, Bell (July 14, 1997). "DSC to integrate Sentient switch and technology". Telephony. 233 (2). Intertec Publishing: 12 – via ProQuest.
  7. ^ Staff writer (April 9, 1999). "Cisco Agrees to Pay $445 Million for Two Companies". The New York Times. The New York Times Company: 3 – via ProQuest.
  8. ^ a b Duffy, Jim (April 12, 1999). "Cisco Systems to Buy Fibex Systems and Sentient Networks". Network World. IDG Publications – via Gale.
  9. ^ Staff writer (June 25, 1999). "Cisco Systems Completes Buy". The Wall Street Journal. Dow Jones & Company: A8 – via ProQuest.