Q&A: Gainspeed's New CEO Rides IP Wave

Light Reading: What are the challenges you face?

Padmanabhan: I think the first one is the approach we're proposing, which moves the MAC and the PHY out to the node and turns the headend into a standard data center type infrastructure with an edge router, is a radical change from the current architecture that [cable operators] have.

The challenge to Gainspeed is going to be convincing our customers to take on that dramatic a change for the very demonstrable benefits that they'll get. And what it really boils down to is we have to earn their trust.

I think that another [challenge] is that most of the MSOs are large organizations full of very talented people, but the decision making, depending on the company, is distributed in different ways, and we're a small company and we have to map across that decision making -- technical people, the field people, the headquarters people, the various constituencies -- and align them so that we can go move past testing and get in to field trials and deployments, and that takes some skill and focus across such complex organizations to align people to drive to decisions.

A third one is obviously we have to continuously innovate very rapidly. We believe we've got a couple years of an advantage, but in our industry there's no comfort… you've got to keep moving on the innovation, and we've a superb product execution team so I'm positive we will, but that challenge has to remain in front of us at all times.

Light Reading: What are some of the tenets of your strategy going forward?

Padmanabhan: One thing that is undoubtedly a core tenet of the strategy is continuing to work with the technical teams at the MSOs. That partnership and their advice and guidance to us on how to proceed is hugely valuable to us… they're visiting us weekly. People are coming here and giving us their views and technically diving deep with us. That has been huge, and it's going to continue to be huge.

In terms of other people in the ecosystem, obviously we need to partner very closely with the people that make the routers and other technology components, and we intend to do so.

Light Reading: On the technology agenda for the MSOs, how do you see fitting distributed architectures in with some of your customers' other priorities such as DOCSIS 3.1?

Padmanabhan: DOCSIS 3.1 and the virtualized distributed approach that we're taking are entirely compatible. We would say that even with DOCSIS 3.0, moving to a distributed approach, Those benefits are there with DOCSIS 3.0 or 3.1. But we know that 3.1 is important on the agenda of our customers, so it's obviously incumbent on us to make sure that whatever solutions we deploy are ready for 3.1 when the MSOs are ready to deploy 3.1. Even before 3.1, we think we give huge benefits with DOCSIS 3.0.

Light Reading: Can you talk about what you bring to the Gainspeed team personally, and why you think you were asked to be the next CEO?

Padmanabhan: The company is moving from a stage where for the last two years it's really been a product innovation stage. And the next stage the company needs to get to at our point is: How do we make this real?

What I humbly hope I bring is a lot of knowledge and experience of how do you make all that stuff work together and get a successful outcome. I think there was a whole lot of capability here [at Gainspeed] already -- it was a pretty darn amazing team already, so hopefully I'm going to help them, but I'm very proud to be a member of the team.

— Mari Silbey, special to Light Reading

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