Light Reading
6:00 AM Back in the driver's seat at Metaswitch, John Lazar is looking at the road ahead to see what kind of company his firm ought to be next

The Future of Metaswitch

Phil Harvey
The Philter
Phil Harvey
10/4/2012
50%
50%

6:00 AM -- ORLANDO, Fla. -- Metaswitch Forum 2012 -- John Lazar has taken the stage and is, once again, ready for his close-up.

Not that John Lazar, the other one.

Lazar, named Metaswitch's CEO in June, has been out of the driver's seat for two years as the company was being run by Kevin DeNuccio, the former Redback Networks Inc. chief who had caviar wishes and IPO dreams. (See DeNuccio Replaced as Metaswitch CEO.)

DeNuccio is still on Metaswitch's board, and Lazar says he consults with DeNuccio regularly.

But Lazar isn't here talking growth, necessarily. He's using the word transformation an awful lot. The time away from the CEO chair allowed him to look at the company he's worked for since 1987 more objectively.

Now that he's back, the former software engineer is describing Metaswitch as a "software company." He's not just trying to sound hip. His four-part strategy provides a glimpse into a company that is helping its customers modernize their networks, while giving them a reasonable path to provide revenue-generating services that businesses and consumers want, over IP networks.

The challenge facing Lazar is interesting. Metaswitch had revenues last year around $156 million, and it now has about 650 employees, of which 300 are engineers. But the kinds of customers he has built Metaswitch's business on aren't necessarily the same ones that will take advantage of its most leading-edge capabilities.

Lazar, then, is looking at a future where Metaswitch could very well become less of a telecom infrastructure provider and more of a Web-scale, network service enabler. To stay relevant in that context, Metaswitch would have to court over-the-top providers that aren't phone companies, don't own telecom networks, and are the very companies poised to take revenues from Metaswitch's oldest customers.

A Four Point Plan
Lazar's first priority, though, is to focus his business. He used his keynote here to declare that Metaswitch will solidify its position as a premium name in VoIP infrastructure. That is Metaswitch's main business now, and larger firms like Genband Inc. , Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC) and others are currently in command of more market share. But product managers in sessions here are frequently citing higher quality calls and simpler software interfaces as living proof that Metaswitch has a distinct market advantage, even if they're not shipping as many boxes as competitors.

The next item in Lazar's strategy is to take advantage of the business services market. How? By better enabling telcos of all sizes to sell hosted business voice services to enterprises and giving them a way to add value along the way.

At this show I'm introduced to Integra Telecom Inc. , which is using Metaswitch gear to provide a hosted voice service to businesses in its 35 metro markets. Such capabilities could enable Integra to go to war with other telcos, selling business voice and related hosted services in territories where it doesn't have facilities.

Integra execs say that a hosted solution is a "marginal, but meaningful improvement" in the business when compared to the economics of selling a managed PBX service. But competition someday may require Integra to be more flexible and to consider wholesaling services or competing outright in other markets, and this is sort of an insurance policy.

The third part of Lazar's plan is to position Metaswitch as a solid alternative supplier in the session border controller market, which Acme Packet Inc. (Nasdaq: APKT) dominates. He noted that he's "blown away" by the level of complacency he gets when talking to service providers about denial of service attacks. "You can't predict what's going to hit you," he told the crowd here.

Finally, Lazar wants Metaswitch to, on behalf of its customers, clarify what the cloud means. In step with that item, Martin Taylor, Metaswitch's CTO, used his keynote to outline how Metaswitch, which now sells its products via specialized hardware, will move to standard, commodity servers, then to virtualized servers and, finally, to services that are designed specially for the cloud.

For the rest of the story, go to Page 2.

(6)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Page 1 / 2 Next >
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
fgoldstein
50%
50%
fgoldstein,
User Rank: Light Sabre
12/5/2012 | 5:19:49 PM
re: The Future of Metaswitch


The company now called Metaswitch was for years Data Connection Ltd., a software company building protocol code.  The original Metaswitch product took a lot of their existing code modules that had gone into other companies' products, filled in some gaps, and created a CO switch that ran entirely on merchant iron.  This was simultaneously radical and obvious, a smart place to be.


DCL renamed the company after the product that came to dominate its sales. But it's still a software comany at heart, whose core skill is making things work on commodity hardware.  The secret sauce is in support, which they do very well. So it's natural for them to recombine their software modules to address new markets.

RBR
50%
50%
RBR,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 5:19:47 PM
re: The Future of Metaswitch


Redux Cisco.  Routers and Switches are just appliances to run their software.  Right move for Metaswitch, tough love to their valued customer base; transform with us, or hello telegraph. 

paolo.franzoi
50%
50%
paolo.franzoi,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 5:19:46 PM
re: The Future of Metaswitch


Ummm...I worked security appliances which were simply x86 servers running FreeBSD or Linux.  Routers tend to have things like switch fabrics and specialized high performance I/O.  Except at the low end they are definitely NOT appliances.  I can not imagine how many Dell Blade Servers would be required to provide the network throughput of a CRS-1.  


seven


 

RBR
50%
50%
RBR,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 5:19:36 PM
re: The Future of Metaswitch

Dearest brook, you are welcome to call that hardware running switching or routing software whatever you like.  I’ll leave that between you and Cisco / VMware. 

Of import is Phil’s column and excellent panel discussion at the Metaswitch Forum (kudo’s Phil, well done) on the impact of virtualization on both vendor and service provider.  It is far too easy for us to associate a vendor with the hardware they sell, or a service provider with the physical network they operate.  As Mr. Lazar and team hammered home, it is our intellect and product awareness of how telephony services are provided, manifested in software for vendors, or business practices for a service provider, where our comparative advantages in the future market resides.  Hitherto, placement of our hardware or our geography defined our respective market space.  Mr. Lazar clearly sees the need to expand his market through virtualization and his team is enthusiastically coaching service providers to do the same.   The same forces are at work with OTT on MVPD’s and Aps on Mobile Wireless Service Providers.

Last year’s Forum highlighted the physical network and pipe, bolstering service providers to transform how they see themselves.  This year, MetaSwitch cut the cord between network and service, aware that their customers must do the same.  Those centered on the access, the physical network, must seek the support of that ecosystem (a very viable market, ripe with opportunity). Those confident in their telephony service can join MetaSwitch to compete in the cloud.  Point being, MetaSwitch can no longer rely on hardware sales to sell their product, and Local Exchange Carriers can no longer rely on telephone service, to sell their access.  Virtualization is changing everything.  Bernie’s companion commentary (Oct 5, 2012) sums it up well.  Time to decide is now.


 

RBR
50%
50%
RBR,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 5:19:35 PM
re: The Future of Metaswitch


AFC was a great company, liked your stuff. 


Agreed, Hosted IP PBX is indeed tough, and trixbox is a very viable market killer already, not to mention the Microsoft or Google free stuff coming.  Its more the telephony service, legacy PSTN interface, and knowing telephone products where LEC's have advantage they need to leverage.  Indeed, the whole concept of a PBX is likely fading.  What remains are customer needs for voice communications, those specialized aps that are used like call fowarding, hunt gorups, auto attendant, find-me-follow-me, etc... and providers who understand both need and solution.  Ever watch an IT professional sell a UCM, ugly...  


MetaSwitch and LEC's have a symbiotic future, as you aptly allude "both good and ill".


Cheers.

paolo.franzoi
50%
50%
paolo.franzoi,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 5:19:35 PM
re: The Future of Metaswitch


RBR,


I don't work at Cisco or VMWare and never have.  The last company that I worked for that is known here is AFC.  I have talked about working in a company that is in the Email Security business as a SaaS vendor.


There are many people in the virtual "Unified Communications" business.  Metaswitch for both good and ill will now have a whole new set of competitors.  Like Microsoft for example.  Not saying that they can't do well, just this is NOT new ground.  Heck there are even open source switches in this space.


seven


 

More Blogs from The Philter
There's an interesting tension between how much SDN can benefit service providers and how it could threaten their established businesses
Stanford's Nick McKeown says SDN won't take hold until networking equipment vendors give up some control
OneAPI may provide developers a reason to build apps and content for networks, not just mobile operating systems
Ericsson CEO Hans Vestberg defends his company's managed services deals and says he'd rather invest in R&D than make expensive acquisitions
Use our message boards to share photos from your Barcelona experience this week
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 Interviews
The New Wave of IP + Optical Integration

11|21|14   |   04:29   |   (7) comments


At the Alcatel-Lucent Technology Symposium, Heavy Reading senior analyst Sterling Perrin talks about how SDN has reshaped the discussion around packet and optical integration.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei Highlights at BBWF 2014

11|20|14   |   3:40   |   (1) comment


Broadband World Forum is one of the world's largest telecoms, media and technology events with over 7,800 senior executives from across the globe converging on Amsterdam every year to identify the Next Big Thing. BBWF is an exciting place to meet the entire industry under one roof and identify the latest in network innovation, service optimization and customer ...
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
How Will BCMS Stimulate Margin for Broadband Operators?

11|19|14   |   6:52   |   (0) comments


In BBWF 2014, Liu Shuqing emphasizes the value of FMC 2.0 based full service experience by throwing light on the BCMS solution. The underlying principle of this innovative technique is to create network robustness and driving network from connection oriented to ACE – BAND oriented infrastructure, in which applications, cloud, and user experiences will be an asset ...
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
SingleFAN3.0: Better Connected Experience

11|19|14   |   3:06   |   (1) comment


At the BBWF 2014, David Hu, the VP of Huawei Access Network Product Line, talked about the future of access networks – SingleFAN3.0: faster broadband, wider coverage, and smarter connection.
LRTV Interviews
Basil Alwan Interview: The Road to Cloud

11|19|14   |   09:09   |   (0) comments


Alcatel-Lucent's head of IP and Transport talks about the migration towards a web-like networking environment, the impact of the cloud, SDN and NFV, and the yet-to-be-announced FP4 chip.
LRTV Documentaries
FairPoint Makes a Fair Point About Analytics

11|19|14   |   1:56   |   (1) comment


The US-based communication service provider gets to grips with advanced analytics, tackling data and breaking down the silos within its own business.
LRTV Documentaries
Analytics Lets C Spire Get to Know Subs

11|19|14   |   3:01   |   (2) comments


It's all about the data for US operator C Spire as it uses analytics to personalize its customer service down to individual subscribers.
LRTV Interviews
Nuage Branches Out With SDN: CEO Interview

11|17|14   |   9:32   |   (0) comments


Sunil Khandekar, CEO of Alcatel-Lucent's SDN-focused unit Nuage Networks, talks about the opportunities and challenges of breaking out of the data center into wide-area networks.
Light Reedy
Telecom Analytics Grows Up

11|14|14   |   1:15   |   (4) comments


The big data analytics debate has moved on from a year ago, with some experts suggesting it's no longer a technology challenge.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei Compass

11|14|14   |   3:17   |   (1) comment


At OpenStack Summit 2014, Shuo Yang, Huawei Principal Cloud Infrastructure Architect introduced Huawei Compass, the software tool for solving customers' problems on the journey of OpenStack Cloud.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei's Cloud Strategy in European Region

11|14|14   |   2:56   |   (1) comment


At OpenStack Summit 2014, Dr. Gotz, CTO of Huawei IT in European Region introduced Huawei's cloud strategy in European region.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei's Contribution on OpenStack

11|14|14   |   5:58   |   (0) comments


At OpenStack Summit 2014, Dennis Gu, Huawei Chief Architect of Cloud Computing introduced the relationship between OpenStack and cloud computing, and Huawei's contribution on OpenStack.
Upcoming Live Events
December 2, 2014, New York City
December 3, 2014, New York City
December 8-10, 2014, Reykjavik, Iceland
February 12, 2015, Atlanta, GA
April 14, 2015, New York City, NY
May 6, 2015, McCormick Convention Center, Chicago, IL
May 13-14, 2015, The Westin Peachtree, Atlanta, GA
June 9-10, 2015, Chicago, IL
Infographics
Irish Telecom outlines the rise of VoIP technology, including its adoption within businesses and their perception of its quality.
Hot Topics
Bell Labs Chief Slams 'Toy' Networks
Robert Clark, 11/19/2014
$38.3M: Ain't That a Kik in the SMS
Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, 11/20/2014
Do You Have a 2020 Vision?
Dennis Mendyk, Vice President of Research, Heavy Reading, 11/21/2014
The New Wave of IP + Optical Integration
Ray Le Maistre, Editor-in-chief, 11/21/2014
Google, AT&T, BT Unite on Network Data Models
Carol Wilson, Editor-at-large, 11/20/2014
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed