Light Reading
Doug Murray says he's a builder, not a seller.

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
It's clear to me that the communications industry is divided into two types of people, and only one is living in the real world.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Dr. Dong Sun Talks About Carriers' Digital Transformation & Huawei’s Telco OS

1|29|15   |   6:28   |   (0) comments


Dr. Dong Sun, Chief Architect of Digital Transformation Solutions at Huawei, discusses how telecom operators can become digital ecosystem enablers and deliver optimal user experiences that are in real-time, on-demand, all-online, DIY and social (ROADS).
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei's Chief Network Architect Talks about Network Experience & Operators’ Strategies

1|29|15   |   3:39   |   (0) comments


In the digital age, network experience has become the primary productivity especially for telecom operators. In this video, Wenshuan Dang, Huawei’s Chief Network Architect, discusses how carriers can tackle the challenge of infrastructure complexity in order to enhance business agility and improve user experience.
LRTV Documentaries
The Rise of Virtual CPE

1|27|15   |   01:38   |   (5) comments


As NFV strategies evolve from tests and trials to production telco networks, expect to hear a lot about virtual CPE (customer premises equipment) rollouts during 2015.
LRTV Documentaries
Optical Is Hot in 2015

1|23|15   |   01:56   |   (2) comments


Optical comms technology underpins the whole communications sector and there are some really hot trends set for 2015.
LRTV Custom TV
Policy Control in the Fast Lane

1|22|15   |   2:57   |   (0) comments


What's making policy control strategic in 2015 and beyond? Amdocs talks with Heavy Reading's Graham Finnie about the key factors driving change in the data services landscape. Find out what his policy management research reveals about the road ahead for policy control – and sign up for
LRTV Documentaries
Highlights From the 2020 Vision Executive Summit

1|21|15   |   4:33   |   (2) comments


In December 2014, Light Reading brought together telecom executives in Reykjavik, Iceland to discuss their vision for high-capacity networks through the end of the decade. The intimate, interactive meeting was set against the backdrop of Iceland's spectacular natural beauty. As one of the event's founding sponsors, Cisco's Doug Webster shared his company's ...
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei Pay-TV Partner Harmonic, Helping Carriers Accelerate 4K Video Deployment with Huawei

1|20|15   |   5:42   |   (1) comment


At IBC, Peter Alexander, Senior Vice President & CMO at Harmonic, speaks about the growing interest in pay-TV service and its branching into multiple devices.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Sony Marketing Director Olivier Bovis Discusses the Outlook for 4K and Cooperation With Huawei at IBC 2014

1|20|15   |   6:50   |   (0) comments


At IBC, Olivier Bovis, Marketing Director of Sony, speaks about the coming of the 4K era.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei Pay-TV Partner Envivio, Helping Carriers Accelerate 4K Video Deployment

1|20|15   |   2:57   |   (0) comments


At IBC, Olivier Bovis, Marketing Director of Sony, speaks about the coming of the 4K era.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Pay-TV's Networked Future

1|20|15   |   6:29   |   (0) comments


At IBC, Jeff Heynen, Principal Analyst at Infonetics, speaks about the future of the pay-TV industry and its transition.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Jeff Heynen: Distributed Access Will Help MSOs Compete in the Future

1|20|15   |   2:26   |   (0) comments


At IBC, Jeff Heynen, Principal Analyst at Infonetics, speaks about moving to distributed access and the future trend of cable business.
LRTV Interviews
Cisco Talks Transformation

1|20|15   |   13:02   |   (0) comments


In December 2014, Steve Saunders sat down with Cisco VP of Products & Solutions Marketing Doug Webster at Light Reading's 2020 Vision executive summit in Reykjavik, Iceland. They spoke about Cisco's approach to network virtualization as well as how service providers can begin to monetize high-capacity networks through the end of the decade.
Upcoming Live Events
February 5, 2015, Washington, DC
February 19, 2015, The Fairmont San Jose, San Jose, CA
March 17, 2015, The Cable Center, Denver, CO
April 14, 2015, The Westin Times Square, New York City, NY
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
September 9-10, 2015, The Westin Galleria Dallas, Dallas, TX
September 29-30, 2015, The Westin Grand Müchen, Munich, Germany
November 11-12, 2015, The Westin Peachtree Plaza, Atlanta, GA
December 1, 2015, The Westin Times Square, New York City
December 2-3, 2015, The Westin Times Square, New York City
Infographics
Hot Topics
Google Continues Gigabit Expansion
Jason Meyers, Senior Editor, Gigabit Cities/IoT, 1/27/2015
Comcast Apologizes to 'A**hole' Brown
Mitch Wagner, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading, 1/29/2015
US Ops Spend $32.5M to Bring 4G to Chicago's Subways
Sarah Thomas, Editorial Operations Director, 1/30/2015
Cablevision's New WiFi Try – Freewheeling Enough?
Mari Silbey, Independent Technology Editor, 1/26/2015
Overture Builds on NFV Foundation
Mitch Wagner, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading, 1/27/2015
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
Webinar Archive
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Weekly Executive Interview
Join us live for Light Reading's interview with Jay Samit, the newly appointed CEO of publicly traded SeaChange International Inc. With a resume that includes Sony, EMI, and Universal, Samit brings a reputation as an entrepreneur and a disruptor to his new role at the video solutions company. Hear what he has to say about the opportunities in video, as well as the outlook for cable, telco, OTT and mobile service providers.