1:30 PM -- I recently had the opportunity to sit down for a discussion with Dror Bin, the president and the CEO of RAD Data Communications. Bin took over the helm of RAD in August 2012.
Below are highlights from my interview with Bin:
Stan Hubbard, Heavy Reading: How would you describe the strategic focus of RAD today, and how do you see the company evolving its portfolio to meet the needs of your diverse global customer base?
Dror Bin, CEO RAD Data Communications: RAD's strategic focus for more than a decade has been on carriers and service providers and the access portion of their network. The biggest issue facing our customers today is how to implement services that are more profitable and less painful from the operations aspect. To this end, we have introduced our Service Assured Access solution. It addresses all the main operator pain points: lack of end-to-end service visibility; the need to hold costs in check by minimizing expensive truck rolls, isolating network problems and avoiding penalties for SLA violations; delivering premium services and up-selling to offset commoditization and the decline in ARPU; and maintaining customer loyalty to reduce churn and the cost of new acquisitions.
Our Service Assured Access solution is based on a standard set of service life cycle tools across our Carrier Ethernet product portfolio. The toolkit is comprised of technician-free deployment, traffic management, fault management, performance monitoring, and sophisticated timing functionality. With these tools, operators can offer a resilient, always-on service with predictable QoS/QoE to more easily plan, deploy, provision, and maintain existing and new services with lower TCO.
Heavy Reading: What is RAD doing to help operators accelerate the rollout of their services and more effectively manage those services once they are up-and-running?
Bin: RAD's approach, through its Service Assured Access solution, is to give the operator various options for intelligent implementation, whether for business services -- including cloud connectivity -- wholesale and mobile backhaul, or converged networks. With RAD the operator can build the entire Service Assured Access over any infrastructure by using our smart aggregators with advanced traffic management capabilities opposite simple NIDs to benefit from saving on expensive PE ports and reducing link costs dramatically. Conversely, the operator can deploy our dedicated or modular smart NIDs to initiate Service Assured Access over fiber, DSL and PDH from the customer premises and connect directly to the PE. Last, but quite unique, the operator can use our MiNID micro NID to upgrade an existing access network with Carrier Ethernet service turn-up, classification and OAM monitoring. Moreover, the service provider may use our own performance monitoring portal or another best-of-breed system to validate SLAs and issue reports.
Heavy Reading: The MiNID device appears to have garnered a lot of service provider interest. Can you share more detail on that?
Bin: The MiNID is a finger-sized device whose unique patent-pending "sleeve" mechanism enables it to fit on any standard SFP and provide service creation and priority marking as well as Ethernet OAM measurements and performance monitoring.
We first showed this innovative product at Light Reading's Ethernet Expo in November 2012, and to tell the truth, we were bowled over by the demand. Our initial assumption was that we would have to educate the market, but the market understood immediately the value proposition. The MiNID can be used with all fiber types as well as electrical SFPs while its range is determined by the SFP being used -- 10/40/80 kilometers or 6.25/25/50 miles.
There are many benefits to using the MiNID: it enables an upgrade of extant customer equipment, including installed SFPs with Service Assured Access capabilities. The MiNID powers non-Carrier Ethernet switches, routers and other devices with Carrier Ethernet OAM and demarcation capabilities. Moreover, it offers zero touch provisioning to mitigate expensive technician truck rolls, saves on costly rack space rental, lowers power consumption and reduces installation complexity -- which is not a trivial matter at all.
We've done initial lab testing with several Tier 1 carrier customers and we'll be conducting more extensive testing in the coming months, including a live demo at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona in February 2013. Our channel partners are excited by it and we both see huge potential in mobile backhaul -- including small cell and pico cells -- and wholesale applications, where the service provider facing the end user will require access to an OAM service -- sort of like the hybrid NID concept.
Heavy Reading: RAD also introduced an Ethernet aggregation platform in 2012. Can you provide an update on how that is being received?
Bin: RAD's ETX-5300A, which is part of our Service Assured Access Solution, is an MEF CE 2.0 compliant Ethernet service aggregation platform for high-capacity grooming of Ethernet traffic and TDM pseudowires delivered from the access network to the provider edge. It features advanced Carrier Ethernet capabilities and cost-optimized design to provide maximum value, lowering TCO by saving on expensive ports at the PE edge. It has a comprehensive feature set: highly sophisticated multi-CoS traffic management capabilities, SLA assurance tools, standardized ring and circuit redundancy/restoration capabilities, E-NNI support for E-Access and multiple timing over packet mechanisms -- including a 1588 Grandmaster clock -- all in a small-form-factor, with low power consumption. Our marketing department dubbed it a magic box for all of the functionality our engineers packed into the 3U chassis.
We officially launched the product in April 2012 and have already had more than two dozen deployments or full-scale pilots in the United States, South America, Europe, Asia-Pacific and Africa. Applications for this solution vary: from a large AAV requiring demarcation between its network and the incumbent last mile service provider; to building the access network with ring topology for a public utility offering telco services; as well as a university campus network backhauling its TDM PBX voice services; and pure Ethernet circuit aggregation to hand off to a PE for mobile or business services.
Heavy Reading: What are the key applications driving your sales right now and how do you see that evolving in 2013.
Bin: Looking into 2013, we believe the rollout of LTE and LTE-Advanced, for example, with the massive amount of bandwidth-consuming applications that are expected to accompany these services, will compel fixed-mobile operators and wholesalers to address capacity planning and latency issues in the backhaul with sophisticated traffic management, service delivery and flexible timing synchronization solutions. We've had much success in helping Tier 1 operators in the U.S., Europe and Japan go beyond the LTE pilot stages to launch full blown LTE services in multiple cities. We also see much greater recognition of Carrier Ethernet's value proposition for business customers. Take-up will spread to more regions. We believe our versatile Service Assured Access approach will give us an edge.
Heavy Reading: Do you care to comment on the SDN trend or any plans that RAD may have related to SDN/virtualization?
Bin: Indeed, we are examining the SDN trend and assessing the impact it will have on the access part of the network where we play. Our CTO has written a very cogent article in his blog titled SDN: A Backward Step Forward, in which he very concisely describes how SDN's principle of "centralized control" can more efficiently use network resources than current distributed routing protocols. Ultimately, this could revolutionize end-to-end networking.
— Stan "EtherMan" Hubbard, Senior Analyst, Heavy Reading