Light Reading

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
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   >   >>
Flash Poll
From The Founder
Networks of the future will rely on "white box" switches and servers rather than proprietary hardware and that's going to alter the shape of the communications industry. Who says so? John Chambers.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei Intros Smart Device for eLTE

3|30|15   |   05:25   |   (0) comments


Huawei has developed a secure, location-aware multimedia smartphone for its eLTE trunked radio solution, says Huawei's Norman Frisch.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Win Video, Win All

3|30|15   |   06:44   |   (0) comments


Video is going to be the next main source of revenue for operators. Operators have big opportunities and advantages to monetize video services. Globally, Huawei has helped more than 70 operators achieve over 30 million video subscribers. Watch this video for more.
LRTV Custom TV
The Benefits of HyperScale Clouds for NFV

3|27|15   |   01:50   |   (0) comments


Hyperscale cloud has been developed by the Internet giants to support the creation and delivery of software-based services at blistering speeds, and at the lowest possible cost. The original ETSI NFV vision was to adopt hyperscale cloud architecture and practices. This vision has become somewhat obscured along the way, due to misunderstandings about the hyperscale ...
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
eLTE Rapid Meets the Need for Speed

3|26|15   |   4:45   |   (0) comments


Designed especially for emergency and dedicated ad hoc local mobile communications coverage, Huawei's eLTE Rapid solution can deliver trunked voice, video and data coverage for multiple users over a 6km range and be set up in just 15 minutes, explains Huawei's Norman Frisch.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
On Videos: Challenges & Opportunities

3|26|15   |   5:56   |   (0) comments


Most everything is now connected. And along with 4K and 4G technologies, everyone could be creating and broadcasting video contents. Users are expecting better video experience with any screen, anywhere and anytime. Operators will meet new challenges, but also see some big opportunities.
LRTV Custom TV
JDSU: Delivering Dynamic Networks for a Personalized Experience

3|26|15   |   5:59   |   (0) comments


Light Reading speaks to JDSU at Mobile World Congress 2015 about new solutions in the areas of HetNets, VoLTE, backhaul, virtualization, big data analytics, and real-time intelligence.
LRTV Custom TV
Smarter Service Chaining & New Ways to Benefit From Qosmos Technology

3|25|15   |   03:11   |   (0) comments


David Le Goff, director of strategic and product marketing at Qosmos, explains how the company has added application awareness to subscriber information to make service chaining more efficient and reduce costs for networking and infrastructure. In addition, Qosmos technology, which has been delivered as C libraries, is now also available as a virtual machine, ...
Between the CEOs
Qosmos CEO: The Changing Face of DPI

3|24|15   |   13:53   |   (0) comments


LR CEO and Founder Steve Saunders sits down with the head of Qosmos to talk about the changing state of the art in deep packet inspection technology, including its role in SDN and NFV architectures. Also, how the comms market is becoming more like the automotive industry.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
FC Schalke Scores With Its Agile Stadium

3|24|15   |   6:23   |   (0) comments


Top German soccer club FC Schalke 04 has deployed a new, agile WiFi network from Huawei in its Veltins-Arena stadium and is reaping the benefits in terms of customer satisfaction and business opportunities, explains marketing chief Alexander Jobst.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei’s Insights on Mobile Video

3|24|15   |   7:51   |   (0) comments


More people than ever are now watching videos on smartphones. Seventy percent of mobile traffic will be video traffic until 2018. In this video, Huawei's exports give their insights on mobile video in terms of business model, network planning and 4G network construction.
LRTV Documentaries
The Rise of Industry 4.0

3|24|15   |   02:26   |   (9) comments


Are you ready for the fourth industrial revolution? It's a big deal for influential operators such as Deutsche Telekom.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Getting Connected With eLTE

3|23|15   |   06:04   |   (0) comments


Trunked radio communications have entered the 4G LTE world, and with Huawei's eLTE solution, can now deliver a full range of data and video services as well as push-to-talk voice, explains Huawei's Norman Frisch.
Upcoming Live Events
April 14, 2015, The Westin Times Square, New York City, NY
May 5, 2015, Hyatt McCormick Place, Chicago, IL
May 6, 2015, Georgia World Congress, Atlanta, GA
May 12, 2015, Grand Hyatt, Denver, CO
May 13-14, 2015, The Westin Peachtree, Atlanta, GA
June 8, 2015, Chicago, IL
June 9-10, 2015, Chicago, IL
June 9, 2015, Chicago, IL
June 10, 2015, Chicago, IL
September 29-30, 2015, The Westin Grand Müchen, Munich, Germany
All Upcoming Live Events
Hot Topics
AT&T Woos SMBs With Small-Scale WiFi
Sarah Thomas, Editorial Operations Director, 3/26/2015
Just Don't Say IBM Is 'Relaunching' Networking Business
Mitch Wagner, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading, 3/26/2015
TV Everywhere Nears Mainstream Adoption
Mari Silbey, Independent Technology Editor, 3/27/2015
Carriers Are Bright Spot in BlackBerry Q4
Sarah Thomas, Editorial Operations Director, 3/27/2015
Comcast Says TWC Deal Will Close Later
Mari Silbey, Independent Technology Editor, 3/26/2015
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
Webinar Archive
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
LR CEO and Founder Steve Saunders sits down with the head of Qosmos to talk about the changing state of the art in deep packet inspection technology, including its role in SDN and NFV architectures.
Chattanooga’s EPB publicly owned utility comms company has become a poster child for how to enable a local economy using next-gen networking technology. Steve Saunders, Founder of Light Reading, sits down with Harold DePriest, president and CEO of EPB, to learn how EPB is bringing big time tech to small town America.
Cats with Phones
Interspecies Phone Love Click Here
"No, you hang up."
"No, YOU hang up."
Latest Comment