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Polatis Inc., a decade-old maker of all-optical switches, has secured $8 million from insiders in its latest round of financing.

Existing investors 3i Group, Alta-Berkeley Ventures, DFJ Esprit, Flagship Ventures, Gainesborough & Peponi Investments, JK&B Capital and Massachusetts Technology Development Corp. provided the financing on a pro-rata basis, said Gerald Wesel, the company's new chief executive. He declined to provide further details about the funding.

Polatis was formed in 2005 from the merger of Continuum Photonics Inc. and U.K.-based Polatis Ltd. Together the two companies had raised at least $54 million in venture capital, according to VentureWire records. The new round is the second since the merger. Details of the other round were not available.

Polatis makes optical switches that direct optical signals around a network without converting to an electrical signal and then back to an optical.

The company has traditionally been active in the government and defense markets, "where there's a high concentration of data that needs to be switched securely and quickly," Wesel said.

Polatis will use the proceeds of the round to expand its products' use in data centers and carrier networks. In March it released its latest switch, which is specifically geared to those markets, Wesel said.

The company has had some sales in those markets in the past, but no large-scale deployments. The move may not have made sense a few years ago, but "now all-optical switching in carrier markets is very strong, especially in Asia where there's lots of fiber" and carriers are deploying all-optical services, Wesel said.

Polatis competes with privately held companies such as Glimmerglass Networks Inc., whose backers include Anthem Venture Partners, Mobius Venture Capital and Onset Ventures; FiberZone Networks Ltd., whose backers include Novak Biddle Venture Partners; and Calient Networks Inc., which has raised $275 million from investors including Enterprise Partners Venture Capital, Storm Ventures and TeleSoft Partners.

Polatis' equipment loses less light in moving the optical signal than its competitors, Wesel said.

Wesel, who joined the company in January, was previously CEO of Ellacoya Networks Inc., a deep packet inspection company that sold to Arbor Networks Inc. in early 2008. Other past positions include chairman of the board at Orthogon Systems LLC and CEO of Crescent Networks.

The company also announced the appointment of Niel Ransom, a former chief technology officer of Alcatel SA, to its board of directors. Ransom's board duties have included Ellacoya Networks Inc., Teknovus Inc., CoreOptics GmbH, Turin Networks Inc. and Overture Networks Inc.