& cplSiteName &

Big Switch CEO: We're Not for Sale

Mitch Wagner
2/13/2014
50%
50%

Doug Murray, the CEO of software-defined networking (SDN) startup Big Switch Networks, has a message for the market: "We're not for sale!"

In the latter part of 2013, rumors circulated that Big Switch Networks was being lined up for an acquisition, with Cisco Systems cited as the prime potential buyer, but a takeover never happened.

Instead, Big Switch appointed Juniper alumnus Murray as CEO in November.

So, was he hired to find a buyer?

"I've been brought in to ramp up this company and make this company a success," Murray told me in a phone interview, during which I pushed him hard on the acquisition question. The company is not being shopped around for buyers, he stated firmly.

Murray, who has given Light Reading the lowdown on his current strategy, said last year's Cisco acquisition talk was just "rumors and speculation" and "a lot of FUD" that pre-dated his joining the company. (See Murray Leads Big Switch Into Bare Metal Battle.)

Big Switch was handicapped by early hype, and now needs to prove its mettle, said Christian Renaud, analyst for 451 Research. "They got so much early exposure they were the poster children for OpenFlow and SDN," he said. "They burned through a lot of their operating capital quickly and ran themselves short on runway. They didn't get the adoption needed to become self-sustaining," he added.

Big Switch, which was founded in 2010 and launched what it claimed was the first "open" SDN product suite in late 2012, came to customers before the customers were ready to deploy, Renaud said. "They were ahead of the market." (See Big Switch Ships Open SDN Product Suite.)

Financially, Big Switch is in good shape today, Murray said. It concluded its Series B financing in late 2012, for a total $47 million. Big Switch is also bringing in revenue from sales of its products. Running out of money is "not on the short term radar," Murray said. (See Intel Invests in Big Switch.)

Far from running out of money, Big Switch is adding headcount, though Murray was cagey about revealing total numbers. He said Big Switch is looking to increase its total employee count by double-digit percentage points through hiring in engineering, sales, and marketing, and that the company has between 50 and 200 employees.

Big Switch views VMware's purchase of Nicira and Juniper's of Contrail, both in 2012, as validation of the SDN technology model, Murray said.

In other words: Customers are ready.

In addition to Murray, Big Switch has a new management team to execute the new product and strategy vision. These include Prashant Gandhi, who joined in May as VP of product management, Joe Palazola, VP operations and customer support, hired February 4, as well as Jeffrey Wang, hired in December as VP engineering after stints at Cisco and Brocade. (See Big Switch Names Palazola Operations Chief, Big Switch Appoints VP of Engineering, and Cisco Exec Goes to Big Switch.)

"The shift we've made is to move to physical and virtual" -- Murray calls this "P+V" -- "and not just do overlays. Overlays don't scale as effectively. You don't have control over the whole infrastructure."

To help customers achieve operational efficiency, Big Switch couldn't just control the overlay, as it had been. It needed to control the underlying switches as well. So it switched to a "bare-metal" strategy, shipping its Switch Light software that runs on commodity hardware.

As part of its strategic shift, Big Switch is developing Cloud Fabric end-to-end cloud operations management software. The service is now in beta with five customers, including carriers and datacenter companies. Big Switch expects to ship this year, and will have a firm date for that in the next quarter, Murray said.

Murray spent a lot more time talking with Light Reading recently, explaining the SDN company's direction and plans.

Check out all he had to say by reading Murray Leads Big Switch Into Bare Metal Battle.

— Mitch Wagner, Circle me on Google+ Follow me on TwitterVisit my LinkedIn profileFollow me on Facebook, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading. Got a tip about SDN or NFV? Send it to mwagner@lightreading.com.

(15)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
Page 1 / 2   >   >>
MarkC73
50%
50%
MarkC73,
User Rank: Light Sabre
2/17/2014 | 2:52:23 AM
Re: Pioneer proudly displays arrows in his back
I remember deploying a few UMC-1000s back in the day, I can't remember any complaints so it they must have been good enough!  Then Tellabs bought them out, and in my personal opinion, the Vz deal pushed their margins too far south.

Back to Big Switch, anyone know where they've been deployed, trial or otherwise?

 

 
Susan Fourtané
50%
50%
Susan Fourtané,
User Rank: Blogger
2/17/2014 | 2:39:37 AM
Re: Pioneer proudly displays arrows in his back
Seven, 

Yes, many times one don't think VCs have much to do with innovation, but they are what startups have in mind when deciding on their product, or service. 

Many times they also want o repeat a particular success story and there is when much of innovation. 

-Susan

 
brookseven
50%
50%
brookseven,
User Rank: Light Sabre
2/16/2014 | 12:51:53 PM
Re: Pioneer proudly displays arrows in his back
Susan,

AFC was the first Access Player to focus on the Tier 3 and Tier 2 Carrier Markets.  Although it followed the standards, the architecture was differentiated and created a cost structure that was attractive.  This was true on both a hardware and software standpoint.   Additionally, the business structure was advantageous to the small carriers (like AFC used to write USF applications for their customers).  

What happens today is that VCs flood the market with startups in the same market spaces (see SDN and NFV).  The other thing is that I see startups who would require the telcos to be completely different companies and are stunned by how slow adoption goes (see SDN and NFV).

seven
Susan Fourtané
50%
50%
Susan Fourtané,
User Rank: Blogger
2/16/2014 | 2:00:50 AM
Re: Pioneer proudly displays arrows in his back
Thanks, Seven.

What do you think made them different from their competition?

Being different from the rest is, indeed, a big plus. There are some good telecom startups in Europe these days. Some of them obviously want to make a difference being innovative, or proposing a change. 

-Susan 
PaulS681
50%
50%
PaulS681,
User Rank: Light Beer
2/15/2014 | 5:44:02 PM
Re: HR policy suggests long game
Big Switch seems to have their act together. But I agree with Mitch... Everything is for sale if the right price is offered. By Murray saying we are not for sale, he is basically upping the price.
brookseven
50%
50%
brookseven,
User Rank: Light Sabre
2/14/2014 | 8:07:21 AM
Re: Pioneer proudly displays arrows in his back
 

Susan,

Advanced Fibre Communications....by the way both Ciena and Pairgain were pretty similarly successful,

The point of all 3 is that they were vastly differentiated from their competition.  Most startups today...not so much.

seven

 
Susan Fourtané
50%
50%
Susan Fourtané,
User Rank: Blogger
2/14/2014 | 3:00:27 AM
Re: Pioneer proudly displays arrows in his back
Seven, 

"I worked for a company that (in the telecom business) went from 0 to $260+ M in revenue in 3 years (where 0 is the date of founding).  That is successful."

More than successful. I believe that's impressive. Is it possible for you to share the name of the company? 

-Susan
brookseven
50%
50%
brookseven,
User Rank: Light Sabre
2/13/2014 | 9:03:49 PM
Re: Pioneer proudly displays arrows in his back
Can you define "widely successful"?

I worked for a company that (in the telecom business) went from 0 to $260+ M in revenue in 3 years (where 0 is the date of founding).  That is successful.

 

seven

 
DOShea
50%
50%
DOShea,
User Rank: Blogger
2/13/2014 | 8:54:57 PM
Re: Pioneer proudly displays arrows in his back
Their Floodlight-based controller really was very widely successful, and it's kind of amazing that less than a year later they were changing strategy amid the prospect of Cisco, Juniper and everyone else getting into that business and taking out the biggest customers. You have to think they had plenty of chances to make a Nicira-type deal early on--I'm guessing especially with Juniper, which later bought Contrail, or maybe Dell or HP.

The new strategy does open things back up for them, but I think can be truly successful only if customers aren't interested in Cisco's ACI story
Carol Wilson
50%
50%
Carol Wilson,
User Rank: Blogger
2/13/2014 | 6:17:25 PM
Re: Pioneer proudly displays arrows in his back
In the telecom space, yes, it often does. Being the first company to create a new technology doesn't mean you can deliver it at the scale needed by telecom giants or convince them to buy it from a small player. 

But I always thought Big Switch had a wide swath of possible customers. 
Page 1 / 2   >   >>
From The Founder
Following a recent board meeting, the New IP Agency (NIA) has a new strategy to help accelerate the adoption of NFV capabilities, explains the Agency's Founder and Secretary, Steve Saunders.
Flash Poll
Live Streaming Video
Charting the CSP's Future
Six different communications service providers join to debate their visions of the future CSP, following a landmark presentation from AT&T on its massive virtualization efforts and a look back on where the telecom industry has been and where it's going from two industry veterans.
LRTV Interviews
AT&T: Creating Dynamic Networks to Meet Business Needs

5|26|17   |   4:24   |   (0) comments


As enterprises need more dynamic networks, service providers need to deliver on-demand, virtual services to meet those needs. AT&T is creating a networking fabric to mix-and-match SDN technologies for enterprise customers, says Roman Pacewicz, AT&T senior vice president for offer management and service integration, in an interview at Light Reading's
LRTV Interviews
EdgeConneX on Industry Headwinds & Tailwinds

5|26|17   |   2:41   |   (0) comments


At Light Reading's Big Communications Event 2017, EdgeConneX CTO Don MacNeil discussed the value of partnerships in the digital world.
LRTV Documentaries
4 Steps Toward a Higher Network IQ

5|26|17   |     |   (0) comments


At the Big Communications Event in Austin, Texas, EXFO CEO Philippe Morin explains how sensors and analytics can boost a network's intelligence and enable on-demand customer experiences. Find more BCE 2017 coverage here.
LRTV Interviews
BT's McRae Sheds Light on 4K Strategy

5|25|17   |   4:45   |   (0) comments


At Light Reading's Big Communications Event 2017 in Austin, Texas, BT Group's Chief Network Architect Neil McRae talks about what it took for BT to broadcast live sports in 4K. Catch up with all our BCE coverage at http://www.lightreading.com/bce.asp.
From the Founder
How the NIA Aims to Advance NFV

5|25|17   |   08:07   |   (1) comment


Following a recent board meeting, the New IP Agency (NIA) has a new strategy to help accelerate the adoption of NFV capabilities, explains the Agency's Founder and Secretary, Steve Saunders.
LRTV Custom TV
Better Solutions That Address Growing Scale

5|25|17   |     |   (0) comments


For Comcast, the X1 rollout and 17-fold increases in broadband speeds in the past 16 years are among factors driving the need for Energy 2020 solutions that reduce cost and consumption, says Mark Hess.
LRTV Custom TV
Ethernity Network Delivers Instant Offloading of Network Functions With All-Programmable Intelligent NIC

5|25|17   |     |   (0) comments


David Levi, CEO of Ethernity Networks, explains that programmability of the hardware makes the company's All-Programmable Intelligent NIC uniquely beneficial for communications service providers that need advanced data appliances with agile support of virtualization. Utilizing the company's patented network processing technology, Ethernity offers data path ...
LRTV Documentaries
BCE 2017: Vodafone Gets Obsessed With Cloud-Native

5|25|17   |     |   (0) comments


Vodafone's Matt Beal updates us on Project Ocean and explains why simple virtualization isn't enough of a goal for network transformation. Catch up with other BCE 2017 keynotes and news at http://www.lightreading.com/bce.asp.
LRTV Documentaries
BCE 2017: Intel's Take on Network Transformation

5|24|17   |     |   (0) comments


In this BCE 2017 keynote, Lynn Comp discusses Intel's vision for areas such as analytics, automation and service assurance. For more videos and BCE coverage, see http://www.lightreading.com/bce.asp.
LRTV Documentaries
Order From Chaos: The Steve Saunders BCE Keynote

5|24|17   |   17:27   |   (0) comments


Kicking off BCE 2017, Light Reading founder Steve Saunders lays blame for NFV's slow ramp-up and urges telecom to return to old-fashioned standards building and interoperability testing.
Think of this as the video sequel to the recent columns he's written about NFV and the prospect of a telecom app store. (See

LRTV Documentaries
Service Provider Panel: Partnering in the Digital Era

5|22|17   |     |   (0) comments


Coopetition has always been part of telecom, but the ecosphere now includes data centers, vendors, apps developers, cloud service providers and Internet content providers. This BCE 2017 panel explores the new attitudes among network operators as to the value and variety of ...
LRTV Interviews
Site Demo: AT&T's IoT Flow Platform

5|19|17   |   04:25   |   (0) comments


At AT&T's R&D center in Tel Aviv, Israel, project leader Eyal Segev talks about the operator's Flow platform and how it helps to prototype IoT applications.
Infographics
With the mobile ecosystem becoming increasingly vulnerable to security threats, AdaptiveMobile has laid out some of the key considerations for the wireless community.
Hot Topics
Cities Clamor for More Clout at FCC
Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, 5/23/2017
What's Blocking 4K TV Today
Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, Light Reading, 5/22/2017
Sonus & Genband Finally Combine to Form $745M Company
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 5/23/2017
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
One of the nice bits of my job (other than the teeny tiny salary, obviously) is that I get to pick and choose who I interview for this slot on the Light Reading home ...
TEOCO Founder and CEO Atul Jain talks to Light Reading Founder and CEO Steve Saunders about the challenges around cost control and service monetization in the mobile and IoT sectors.
Animals with Phones
What Brogrammers Look Like to the Rest of Us Click Here
Live Digital Audio

Playing it safe can only get you so far. Sometimes the biggest bets have the biggest payouts, and that is true in your career as well. For this radio show, Caroline Chan, general manager of the 5G Infrastructure Division of the Network Platform Group at Intel, will share her own personal story of how she successfully took big bets to build a successful career, as well as offer advice on how you can do the same. We’ll cover everything from how to overcome fear and manage risk, how to be prepared for where technology is going in the future and how to structure your career in a way to ensure you keep progressing. Chan, a seasoned telecom veteran and effective risk taker herself, will also leave plenty of time to answer all your questions live on the air.