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
The New IP is actually bigger even than business. Like another hugely important tech that Light Reading is digging into right now, the New IP has the potential to change the world by fundamentally advancing what it is possible for people to achieve with communications.
LRTV Interviews
In the Cloud With Telecom Italia

3|5|15   |   7:10   |   (0) comments


Light Reading CEO Steve Saunders sits down with Telecom Italia's Simone Battiferri at Mobile World Congress to discuss virtualization, agility and the economic advantages of the cloud.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
New Ways of Working

3|5|15   |   4:24   |   (0) comments


At the ICT Leaders Roundtable, hosted jointly by Light Reading and Huawei at the Hotel Renaissance in Barcelona just prior to Mobile World Congress, Hong Kong Telecom's Michael Yue explains how the transformation in its business has changed its customer relationships.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Bridging the Digital Gap

3|5|15   |   4:03   |   (0) comments


At the ICT Leaders Roundtable, hosted jointly by Light Reading and Huawei at the Hotel Renaissance in Barcelona just prior to Mobile World Congress, Boingo's Dr. Derek Peterson explains how ICT can help telcos bring the physical and virtual worlds closer together.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Making the Internet of Things Affordable

3|5|15   |   2:42   |   (0) comments


At the ICT Leaders Roundtable, hosted jointly by Light Reading and Huawei at the Hotel Renaissance in Barcelona just prior to Mobile World Congress, Telefonica's Dr. Mike Short explains how the Internet of Things demands a new low-cost approach to connectivity from telcos.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Evolution, Not Revolution

3|5|15   |   2:00   |   (0) comments


At the ICT Leaders Roundtable, hosted jointly by Light Reading and Huawei at the Hotel Renaissance in Barcelona just prior to Mobile World Congress, Heavy Reading's Patrick Donegan explains why telcos can't be too hasty in their efforts to transform themselves.
LRTV Custom TV
Management & Orchestration Enablement Strategies Required for NFV Commercial Success

3|5|15   |   6:22   |   (0) comments


NFV commercial success rests on successful service orchestration strategies which can span heterogeneous physical, virtual, legacy and next-gen networks. Network data and security integrity are additional key aspects. Nakina provides a suite of orchestratable network integrity applications built on an open, scalable MANO enablement platform.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
The Power of Five Convergences in OceanStor OS

3|4|15   |   6:24   |   (0) comments


OceanStor OS is Huawei's brand-new storage operating system. While inheriting the consistent high stability, reliability and performance from the company's previous storage products, OceanStor OS abounds in new converged storage features. Specifically, the new storage operating system achieves "five convergences" to lift storage convergence to a higher level.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
4K Brings Extreme Video Experience

3|4|15   |   8:10   |   (0) comments


4K video is a hot topic in the video industry. It will certainly bring an extreme video experience to end users. At the same time, however, it will also pose a big challenge to operators. Check out this Huawei 4K experts' discussion about how operators can achieve success in 4K video service.
LRTV Interviews
DT's Virtualization Vision for Europe

3|4|15   |   10:23   |   (0) comments


Light Reading CEO Steve Saunders talks virtualization, cloudification and standards with Deutsche Telekom's Axel Clauberg at Mobile World Congress.
LRTV Custom TV
ZTE's Wireline at MWC 2015

3|4|15   |   6:35   |   (0) comments


Light Reading speaks with Jane Chen, ZTE's Senior VP of Wireline Business, about innovations in her product line at Mobile World Congress.
LRTV Custom TV
ZTE at MWC 2015

3|4|15   |   4:24   |   (0) comments


Dr. Dick Chen of ZTE USA gives Light Reading an overview of what's new at ZTE's pavilion at Mobile World Congress 2015.
LRTV Interviews
Ericsson CEO Talks Telco Data Center Tech

3|4|15   |   05:45   |   (1) comment


At Mobile World Congress, Ericsson CEO Hans Vestberg discusses telco data center technology, business models, small cells and more.
Upcoming Live Events
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
June 10, 2015, Chicago, IL
All Upcoming Live Events
Infographics
Net neutrality, broadband services and the current outlook on data consumption, as presented by the New Jersey Institute of Technology.
Hot Topics
Internet Pioneers Decry Title II Rules
Carol Wilson, Editor-at-large, 3/2/2015
Wheeler: We'll Enforce Title II 'Case-By-Case'
Sarah Thomas, Editorial Operations Director, 3/3/2015
New CenturyLink CTO in Major Overhaul
Carol Wilson, Editor-at-large, 3/4/2015
Verizon Takes Radio Dot to Detroit, VoLTE Overseas
Sarah Thomas, Editorial Operations Director, 2/27/2015
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
Webinar Archive
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
Light Reading CEO Steve Saunders talks transformation and virtualization – including Light Reading's independent testing of the vendor's virtualization solutions – with Cisco CEO John Chambers at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.
Check out 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 had to say about the opportunities in video, as well as the outlook for cable, telco, OTT and mobile service providers.