& cplSiteName &

SoftBank's 'Open Source' Source Is a Slovakian Startup

Iain Morris
6/6/2017
50%
50%

A 13-player software startup in Slovakia appears to have outrun the bigger networking vendors to land an important network deal with Japan's SoftBank.

Founded last year, and based in the Slovak capital of Bratislava, Frinx claims to offer a "fully supported" version of OpenDaylight and is one of a crop of new companies that sees a business opportunity in open source technology.

For anyone that's forgotten, OpenDaylight is an open source SDN platform that is managed by the Linux Foundation. The project includes some of the biggest names in the technology industry, with Brocade Communications Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: BRCD), Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC), Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC), Red Hat Inc. (NYSE: RHT) and ZTE Corp. (Shenzhen: 000063; Hong Kong: 0763) all listed as "platinum" members on the organization's website.

But it was to tiny Frinx that SoftBank Corp. turned most recently for OpenDaylight support.

"SoftBank was looking for support for OpenDaylight infrastructure and wanted someone to shepherd them through the process," says Gerhard Wieser, Frinx's CEO.

Wieser cannot reveal details of the vendors that lost out to Frinx during a tender last year, but says his young company "was up against the big guys."

The contrast between Frinx and SoftBank could not be starker. Frinx employs just 13, has raised about $5 million in funding and is around a year old. SoftBank has more than 69,000 employees, made about $81 billion in revenues last fiscal year and was founded in 1981.

What's even more striking is that such a minnow could see off the vendors that SoftBank has traditionally used on network projects.

Frinx's success points to the upheaval that is underway as operators embrace open source, software and virtualization technologies, and it sends a troubling message to the industry giants. (See Open Sores: Are Telcos on a Collision Course With Vendors?)

But Wieser, who previously worked at Cisco, says it is testament to the expertise he has been able to assemble at Frinx.

"The folks I picked to form Frinx have been key contributors to OpenDaylight, with a long track record on various projects," he says. "That is why I think SoftBank picked us."

Answering questions from Light Reading, SoftBank said it had been working with Frinx to introduce OpenDaylight-based technologies into its commercial networks.

"Frinx is expected to provide code base support for the open source project, which is vendor neutral," said a spokesperson for the operator. "After due consideration we concluded that Frinx has the right solutions and expertise to do that."

SoftBank also confirmed that it is not currently investing in Frinx.


Want to know more about the emerging SDN market? Check out our dedicated SDN content channel here on Light Reading.


Much like Red Hat -- a leading advocate of open source technology whose revenues and profits have grown for the past five years -- Frinx intends to make money from the support and services it provides around OpenDaylight technology.

Frinx is providing SoftBank with a curated and tested distribution of OpenDaylight, which it simply calls the Frinx ODL Distribution, and a package for the software development process that is branded the Frinx Smart Build Engine.

Wieser claims that Frinx provides a higher level of quality assurance than a user would get with the open version of OpenDaylight.

In a nutshell, the deal means that SoftBank can focus on building the applications that sit on top of OpenDaylight and leave the management of the open source software to Frinx.

The main challenge for Frinx could be managing the expectations of such a large player. And bigger vendors may begin to adapt their own business models to the new open source realities, Wieser acknowledges.

"On the customer side, people are excited about using open source, but what has been missing is the support model, and I think we've hit the sweet spot there," he says. "Other large companies are talking about open source, and it wouldn't surprise me if over time they would be ready to go down such a support path as well."

SoftBank is not the only big player with which Frinx is working, says Wieser -- merely the only one it has been able to announce as a customer. "There are others we are super-excited about," he says.

The company is also augmenting its portfolio of services and says forthcoming innovations will allow customers to solve network configuration and control use cases "out of the box, with no or little customization."

There are also plans to expand the workforce. Wieser is not disclosing details on that front but says "the pool of engineering talent is deep and available" in Bratislava.

— Iain Morris, Circle me on Google+ Follow me on TwitterVisit my LinkedIn profile, News Editor, Light Reading

(2)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
danielcawrey
50%
50%
danielcawrey,
User Rank: Light Sabre
6/6/2017 | 8:19:23 PM
Re: 13-person SDN start-up
Maybe SoftBank wanted to go with a fresh company that might be able to take more risks than larger rivals. 

As an advocate of startups, I hope we see this more often. 
Gabriel Brown
50%
50%
Gabriel Brown,
User Rank: Light Sabre
6/6/2017 | 12:42:57 PM
13-person SDN start-up
Cool story. Hard to imagine Frinx staying at 13 people with a pipeline like this
From The Founder
NFV's promises of automation and virtualization are intriguing, but what really excites service providers is the massive amount of money they could save.
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.
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
AT&T's Tech President Preps Workforce for the Future

7|26|17   |   5:47   |   (2) comments


AT&T is focused on the software-defined network of the future and is reskilling its workforce to get ready too, according to AT&T's President of Technology Development Melissa Arnoldi.
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
Cisco: Mentoring Critical to Attract & Retain Women

7|19|17   |   6:40   |   (1) comment


Liz Centoni, senior vice president and general manager of Cisco's Computing System Product Group, shares why mentoring in all its forms is important for women and what Cisco is doing that's made a difference for women in tech.
LRTV Custom TV
Gigabit LTE With Snapdragon 835

7|12|17   |     |   (1) comment


At an event in Wembley stadium, EE used its live network to demonstrate gigabit LTE using a Sony Xperia XZ Premium smartphone with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 chip.
LRTV Custom TV
Implementing Machine Intelligence With Guavus

7|12|17   |     |   (0) comments


Guavus unites big data and machine intelligence, enabling many of the the largest service providers in the world to save money and drive measureable revenue. Learn how applying Machine Intelligence substantially reduces operational costs and in many cases can eliminate subscriber impact, meaning a better subscriber experience and higher NPS.
LRTV Custom TV
Unlocking Customer Experience Insights With Machine Intelligence

7|12|17   |     |   (0) comments


When used to analyze operational data and to drive operational decisions, machine intelligence reduces the number of tasks which require human intervention. Guavus invested in Machine Intelligence early. Learn about the difference between Machine Learning and Machine Intelligence.
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
Verizon VP Talks Network, Career Planning

7|12|17   |   4:49   |   (0) comments


Heidi Hemmer, vice president of Technology, Strategy & Planning at Verizon, shares how bold bets and the future of tech define her career.
Telecom Innovators Video Showcase
Masergy's NFV Journey

7|11|17   |     |   (0) comments


Ray Watson, vice president of global technology at Masergy, discusses the advantages and challenges in entering the still-maturing NFV market for the past three years.
Telecom Innovators Video Showcase
Mavenir on RCS Cloud Platform & Multi-ID

7|10|17   |     |   (0) comments


Guillaume Le Mener, head of marketing and corporate development at Mavenir, discussed RCS and the recent launch of Multi-ID, which supports T-Mobile's DIGITS, the revolutionary new technology that breaks down the limitation of one number per phone and one phone per number.
LRTV Custom TV
ADTRAN Executive Outlines Trends in Next-Generation 10-Gigabit Cable Networks

7|10|17   |     |   (0) comments


Hossam Salib, VP of Cable and Wireless Strategy at ADTRAN, outlines key trends as MSOs begin to deploy next-generation Gigabit and 10-Gigabit cable networks. In the interview, Hossam outlines the advantages of a Fiber Deep architecture, FTTH options including EPON and RFoG, and the importance of SDN and NFV in building next-generation high-bandwidth cable networks.
LRTV Interviews
Global Capacity: Bandwidth Demand Driving Ethernet Growth

7|6|17   |   6:37   |   (0) comments


At Light Reading's Big Communications Event in Austin, Texas, Global Capacity's VP of Marketing Mary Stanhope talks about how the demand for bandwidth is changing the way service providers deliver broadband services.
LRTV Interviews
Colt's Services Chief on Digital Delivery

7|5|17   |   16:12   |   (0) comments


Rogier Bronsgeest, the chief customer experience officer (chief CEO!) at Colt, discusses the way in which the service provider interacts with its customers these days and his aggressive net promoter score (NPS) targets.
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
BT VP: Women Should Fill Security Talent Gap

7|5|17   |   6:00   |   (2) comments


By 2020 there will be six security jobs for every qualified worker, and Kate Kuehn, vice president of Security for BT in the Americas, says BT wants to encourage women to fill the shortage in jobs.
Upcoming Live Events
September 28, 2017, Denver, CO
October 18, 2017, Colorado Convention Center - Denver, CO
November 1, 2017, The Royal Garden Hotel
November 1, 2017, The Montcalm Marble Arch
November 2, 2017, 8 Northumberland Avenue, London, UK
November 30, 2017, The Westin Times Square
All Upcoming Live Events
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
BBC Head: We Must Reinvent Broadcasting for a New Generation
Aditya Kishore, Practice Leader, Video Transformation, Telco Transformation, 7/21/2017
NFV, SDN, Big Data – It's All About Automation
Craig Matsumoto, Editor-in-Chief, Light Reading, 7/21/2017
What's a Little Throttling Between Friends?
Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, 7/24/2017
Qualcomm Takes Q3 Pummeling From Apple
Iain Morris, News Editor, 7/20/2017
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
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.
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 ...
Animals with Phones
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.