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EXFO Bolsters Brix With OSS Acquisition

Ray Le Maistre

Canadian test and measurement specialist EXFO has added to its service assurance portfolio with the acquisition of all the assets and intellectual property rights of ByteSphere, a Boston, Mass.-based developer of network performance management systems. (See EXFO Acquires ByteSphere Assets.)

Financial details were not disclosed.

ByteSphere's key products are its OidView performance management tool, which uses SNMP (Simple Network Management Protocol) to monitor the state of network elements, and the Jaguar SX system, which collects, analyzes and reports on network events. The company, which was founded in 2007 with funding from angel investors, and which has since grown using its operating income, boasts more than 800 service provider and enterprise customers, including AT&T, Bell Canada, Cox Communications, Deutsche Telekom, KDDI, Sprint, TeliaSonera, and Verizon Wireless.

Quebec City-based EXFO Inc. (Nasdaq: EXFO; Toronto: EXF) is adding ByteSphere's assets to its existing Brix Service Provider Information Technology (SPIT) capabilities, which have been part of the company since 2008. (See EXFO Builds With Brix.)

The company's CEO, Germain Lamonde, noted in the acquisition announcement that the ByteSphere assets will be of particular importance in the monitoring and assurance of wireless small cell, backhaul, and metro Ethernet networks.

The move appears to be part of EXFO's increasing focus on the testing and assurance of mobile network infrastructure: It recently announced a suite of VoLTE monitoring capabilities as part of its BrixWorx service assurance system, and enhanced its fiber-to-the-antenna (FTTA) test, activation, and troubleshooting solution with the integration of spectrum analyzer capabilities from partner Rohde & Schwarz GmbH & Co. KG . (See EXFO Unveils VoLTE Service Assurance Suite.)

And like any SPIT vendor with a pulse, EXFO is also investing time, effort, and resources into figuring out how networks and applications can be tested, monitored, configured, and provisioned once NFV and SDN capabilities and introduced into live telco networks.

That doesn't mean EXFO has taken its eye off the ball in its core optical text system market, where it has recently announced new products. (See EXFO Intros New 10G Multiservice Tester and EXFO Launches FTB-2 Pro Test Platform.)

It seems clear that the company needs to diversify into new markets such as mobile and SDN/NFV, though, as it recently announced an 18% year-on-year dip in revenues to $51.2 million for its fiscal second quarter ending February 28. That blip may be temporary, though, as the company also noted that its bookings were up from a year ago, at $58.7 million, and it expects to report revenues of between $60 million and $65 million for the fiscal third quarter ending in May.

EXFO's share price closed Monday at $5.03, giving the company a market capitalization of about $300 million.

— Ray Le Maistre, Circle me on Google+ Follow me on TwitterVisit my LinkedIn profile, Editor-in-Chief, Light Reading

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Vishnu Goel
Vishnu Goel,
User Rank: Light Sabre
4/13/2014 | 12:20:59 PM
This T&M vendor is moving in the right direction ie upping the solution vector in terms of value chain to OSS/BSS arena. But it has a long way to go before it reaches a critical level where it can merge/acquire a tectonic shift in growth.I think a level of profitable sales revenue of around half a Billion is necessary alongwith couple of major Asian operators as their marquee customers.Vishnu Goel T&M +919810101238
Carol Wilson
Carol Wilson,
User Rank: Blogger
4/8/2014 | 12:33:17 PM
I think service assurance is the key -- that's the thing on which service providers most need to get a strong grip. Because of the vareity of moving network parts and the -- hopefully coming -- variety of services, they can no longer afford to see test and measurement as a separate function, once stuff is out of the lab and in the real world. 

I think we'll see more and more of these kinds of connections.
User Rank: Blogger
4/8/2014 | 11:09:25 AM
If the likes of EXFO were to be snapped up I imagine it would have to be another major text vendor doing the swooping, and there's a lot of overalp between many of the test vendors, so I imagine the M&A cycle will contibue to be along the lines of small, strategic acquisitions such as this one.

THis is a ripe time for test and service assurance firms, I think, as long as they get to grips with the impact that telco data center, cloud, SDN, NFV and LTE will have on the busineses of their customers.

And yeah -- that's going to be a tough task but not insurmountable for companies with focus and proper R&D.
User Rank: Blogger
4/8/2014 | 9:02:51 AM
This company is definitely broadening its appeal. Not long ago it did look like the sort of specialist that would end up in the hands of a larger vendor. That could still happen, I guess, but right now, it's the one doing the buyingg, albeit on a smaller scale.
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