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Optical/IP

Chen's Outta Atrica

Nan Chen, vice president of marketing with Atrica Inc., is leaving his post to take on the job of vice president of marketing at wireless networking equipment provider Strix Systems Inc.

Meanwhile, Atrica announced that veteran Scott Messenger would be taking Chen's place. Messenger was Director of Product Marketing and Product Line Management for Cisco System's Optical Business Unit, and prior to that was at Cerent, which was acquired by Cisco.

Chen said his job change came down to a personal decision, based on where he felt the market is going. “To me, wireless is where the world is moving to,” said Chen.

Strix makes mesh architecture wireless systems targeted at enterprise networks. (See Strix Has WiMax Plans and Wireless Mesh: New Wave Broadband.)

"The first hot application of the vision of wireless networking is metro-scale wireless mesh networking to blanket cities, towns, rural areas with ubiquitous, broadband, triple-play data networks," says Chen. "Everyone is jumping on it. It will be very big..."

So why Strix? "They have the best technology, after my due dilligence," says Chen. But Strix isn't necessarily the biggest name in the emerging wireless LAN mesh market. In fact, Gabriel Brown, head analyst at Unstrung Insider, once described them as the "best kept secret" in the market.

Recently, Strix has been trying to change that, adding metro-mesh to its previously enterprise-only product line and talking up a move to WiMax-based backhaul in the future.

Bringing Chen on board should be another boost for the company's profile. The marketing man touts Strix as the gateway to "a third generation of wireless networking." [Ed. note: Didn't we have one of those already?]

"The third generation of wireless LAN is actually routers and switches that connect without wires," Chen claims.

What he's referring to is the fact that wireless mesh systems don't require point-to-point connections between the wired network and 802.11 access points. Mesh is much more like a team sport, where each wireless "node" recieves and routes data to other radios across the network. In theory at least, this makes these networks easier and cheaper to install because they require just a few connections back to the wired network. (See Mesh Gathers Momentum.)

So, does the move mean anything for Atrica? Not according to Chen. "They’re doing fine," he says.

Chen, who is also president of the Metro Ethernet Forum (MEF), says he will retain that job. Strix, like Atrica, is a member of the MEF. Chen will report to Bruce Brown, Strix Systems' president and CEO.

Prior to Atrica, Chen was director of product management and product marketing at Force10 Networks Inc. Before that, he was director of technology at

But Light Readers may remember Chen's crowning achievement, a 2004 Leading Lights award for Best Marketing by a startup. (See LR Reveals Leading Lights Winners, A Night of Leading Lights, and Capital Spending). At the Leading Lights Dinner in December 2004, Chen took the stage, hoisted his Lightie into the air, and declared, "Now I can go to the board and ask for a raise!"

Looks like Chen and the Atrica board may have never come to terms.



— R. Scott Raynovich, US Editor, Light Reading

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