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Carrier CTO Slams Vendor Complexity

Interoute's CTO has some issues with the telecom vendor community, and he's ready to share them at this week's Ethernet Expo in London

May 12, 2009

3 Min Read
Carrier CTO Slams Vendor Complexity

LONDON -- Equipment vendors are making it hard for network operators to develop and provision the services their end users want and need by building unnecessary complexity into their products, according to Matthew Finnie, CTO at pan-European carrier Interoute Communications Ltd.

He's set to voice his opinions during a keynote presentation this Thursday at the Ethernet Expo: Europe 2009 event, held this year at the ExCel Conference Centre in London's Docklands. Finnie plans to use his podium time to tell the vendor community why they're holding up the Ethernet and optical services sector and to present Interoute's views on the development of corporate communications services and misconceptions about "the cloud."

Previous attendees at the event will know that Finnie isn't worried about telling vendors what he thinks of them -- last year he slammed vendors for overcomplicated marketing and selling, and criticized the industry tension that had grown between MPLS and PBT (Provider Backbone Transport) supporters. (See Interoute CTO Blames Vendors for Confusion.)

Now his chief target is the vendor management software. Finnie tells Light Reading during a pre-show interview that "Ethernet is all about simplification, not complication, but for many companies [vendors] it's complication that works. They say: 'How many features do you want -- we have 400!' I want just two. I am only interested in making it operationally simple."

He continues: "In many cases the hardware makes sense, but the management systems are really hard to use. My plea to vendors is -- make it simple and cheap, and adhere to a number of standards, especially in the optical side where the vendors just love to add their own little tweaks to make it different and unique to themselves."

And Finnie is desperate for greater simplification as Ethernet increases its hold on the wholesale and large corporate user market, though he notes that SDH is far from being a dead technology. "All the growth in connections of STM-1 [156 Mbit/s] and above is in Ethernet presentations... [and] it's no real surprise that everything's going toward Ethernet -- we expect to continue to invest less in SDH, but we wouldn't foretell the death of SDH because its tail is very long. We see little SDH above STM-1s now, but below that we still see an awful lot of demand for SDH E1s [2 Mbit/s]."

The Interoute man is also keen to make services easy and understandable for corporate users. "We have a unified connectivity strategy for corporates. We deploy a box at the customer's sites and then say: 'You've got it all -- what do you want us to turn off?' The complexity comes in the last-mile connections to the customers' sites. They need to be much more robust and simple and repeatable, especially as more and more enterprise customers want multiservice solutions. But the more complex you make it the more fragile it will be."

Finnie's also keen to get his message across about the rise of cloud computing. "It's all about the better utilization of assets," he says, before launching into an attack on some industry hype that has raised his heckles. "Optical networks can't be clouds -- you can't share a time slot. We want to talk about simplicity, but that's not the Internet either. The Internet is NOT the cloud -- that's just a pub view of the cloud," bawls Finnie before taking his blood-pressure medication.

For those that want the full Finnie rant, it's not too late to attend the Ethernet Expo in London -- check out the link at the bottom of this page for more details.

— Ray Le Maistre, International News Editor, Light Reading

Interested in learning more on this topic? Then come to Ethernet Expo: Europe 2009, a conference and exposition showcasing the latest trends in the Carrier Ethernet market in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. To be staged in London, May 13 & 14, admission is free for attendees meeting our prequalification criteria. For more information, or to register, click here.

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