x
Ethernet services

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.


rahat.hussain 12/5/2012 | 4:05:00 PM
re: Carrier CTO Slams Vendor Complexity

i find this interesting that a cto is giving the following message: "make it simple and cheap, and adhere to a number of standards".


- isn't it the cto's job to cut through the technical complexity and find advantages he can present to his customers? this message sounds like what he hears from his ceo.


- why does a carrier need a cto if all he does is complain about " [optical] vendors [who] just love to add their own little tweaks to make it different and unique to themselves". isn't it his job to understand these tweaks and then decide if any of them make sense? and then report to the ceo regarding value creation in the market?



- do we really need cto's to rant about the "cost of packet transport systems [being] artificially high for too long". i appreciate that the cto should have cost as a consideration but it almost seems like he is usurping the roles of the ceo and the procurement organization when he deals with vendors.



- if vendors had huge margins and the industry was flush with profitable companies, some of his rants may be excusable, but puhleese, stop this rant, go back to the pub and down another guiness (along with the blood pressure medication).


 


odo <-- who has had it with carrier cto's who can rant simply because they sit on top of the food chain and are completely oblivious of the state of the industry.

paolo.franzoi 12/5/2012 | 4:04:58 PM
re: Carrier CTO Slams Vendor Complexity

odo,


Basically, it is the trap of the industry at the moment.  The people want full featured, robust products at a low price.  To achieve this, the systems companies have to spend a lot of R&D on top of what the silicon folks provide.  There is nowhere near the total margin available for all the systems companies to fund these developments.  So, the solution for the systems guys to try to push the envelope beyond the standard and build extra capability into their product to get extra margin.


People are surprised at the lack of innovation?


seven


 

Interoute CTO 12/5/2012 | 4:04:56 PM
re: Carrier CTO Slams Vendor Complexity Thanks for the comments. Unfortunately service providers are not at the top of the food chain and have to be very conscious of the value our customers place on services. For the optical layers the opportunity to introduce new and complex features that customers are willing to pay for simply isnt their. Interoute has pioneered many optical products - 10day delivery, protected ethernet, revertive services etc - but the customer base, of whom 99% are building IP networks, control and deliver service value at the packet level. What they and we want from the optical layer is inter-working across vendors and operational simplicity - these are the features we are willing to pay for. This is not a new request hence our frustration at the slow pace of change largely as vendors untangle themselves from years and years of proprietary inter working as the foundation of their business model.

As for the comment I sound more like a CEO than CTO I'm flattered. However at Interoute all the senior management are cognizant of the fact that without the continued hard earned support from our customers we are nothing, making them successful is our primary concern.
Interoute is always keen to work with vendors up for the challenge of moving markets through service innovation which inevitably means driving down the Gǣtotal cost curveGǥ. We have many exceptional examples of partnership. My specific challenge for Ethernet and the access layer is much the same; reduced complexity, better economics and a common service management layer, not to much to ask?
boozon 12/5/2012 | 4:04:55 PM
re: Carrier CTO Slams Vendor Complexity

"reduced complexity, better economics and a common service management layer, not to much to ask?"


 


No, and you're certainly not the only carrier to ask for this.


However it'll take a lot of time for you to get heard because people listen only to what they want to listen to, and I'm not sure that this is really what they want to hear.


Just consider this: mobile phones all have different chargers (sometimes even different models from the same manufacturer have different chargers).


A common charger will be adopted from 2012 only (under the pressure of the regulator BTW):


http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/tec...


And we're talking about a simple charger!


I'll probably have grown a white beard by the time there is line interop and common service management.


Finally, once you get what you want, make sure that you transfer part of the savings to your customers and that you don't use the money only to buy alloy wheels for your Jag...





paolo.franzoi 12/5/2012 | 4:04:53 PM
re: Carrier CTO Slams Vendor Complexity Better economics for you does not necessarily imply better economics for your vendors. By driving to your stated objectives, you will essentially drive all suppliers out of business - except 1 (probably Huawei). As since you are trying to eliminate differentiation vendors have no way to make money except to lower costs by eliminating R&D and Service personnel. Is that what you really want?

seven
Carriercop 12/5/2012 | 4:04:51 PM
re: Carrier CTO Slams Vendor Complexity "Simple & cheap & only 2 features" - yep, right... And as usually, after the Cheap&Simple box put back-to-back another box more complex and expensive. After some time, bring more customers and finally discover that you're managing 2 boxes with more operations and complex price-cahin model...
rahat.hussain 12/5/2012 | 4:04:50 PM
re: Carrier CTO Slams Vendor Complexity

first, i am delighted 'interoute cto' has responded to my rant - thanks for doing that. not many cto's would come out openly!


second, i don't know much about interoute and i don't personally know you, so i want to get that off the table (i.e., no pre-biases, nor any special knowledge).


finally, i want to respond to some of the comments:


Unfortunately service providers are not at the top of the food chain and have to be very conscious of the value our customers place on services.


- as a telecom vendor, and viewed from a business-to-business product sales viewpoint, i still think you are on top of the foodchain. go to any technical event, and you will see the organizers and the rest of the community hover around you. implication: you are on top of the food chain. lightreading sends out a preview with you as the central theme = you are on top of the food chain, so stop denying that. yes, i understand you provide services to other businesses, and and you too have customers, so fine.


For the optical layers the opportunity to introduce new and complex features that customers are willing to pay for simply isnt theire.


- oh wow really? so you don't need a pluggable tunable transceiver at 10G, 40G and 100G in the future so you can simply plug and play? you wouldn't like a mesh switch (say 12 x 16 wss) that can automatically route any combination of wavelengths from any location to any other location?


Interoute has pioneered many optical products - 10day delivery, protected ethernet, revertive services etc - but the customer base, of whom 99% are building IP networks, control and deliver service value at the packet level.


- i actually admire how you have transcribed some of the ip/optical layer features into 'products' which are clearly aimed at you customer-base. and i agree that your customers probably don't care about my putative innovations above (tunable pluggables, etc) but you do recognize that there's still some optical innovation that is needed in order for you to deliver safe, swift provisioning from any node to any other node without encumbrances, right?


What they and we want from the optical layer is inter-working across vendors and operational simplicity - these are the features we are willing to pay for. This is not a new request hence our frustration at the slow pace of change largely as vendors untangle themselves from years and years of proprietary inter working as the foundation of their business model.


- i understand that you have been asking for this for a while. ever stop and wonder why you haven't gotten it? ever look at the margins your system vendors make on their chassis and their transponders? would you like these vendors to give away the chassis for free and then get their inter-operating competitors to grab the transponder/service-interface business at a discount by undercutting them? are you willing to give up something, anything, so the system vendors and their suppliers show some healthy growth?


As for the comment I sound more like a CEO than CTO I'm flattered. However at Interoute all the senior management are cognizant of the fact that without the continued hard earned support from our customers we are nothing, making them successful is our primary concern.


- fair enough, and you can take it as a compliment.


Interoute is always keen to work with vendors up for the challenge of moving markets through service innovation which inevitably means driving down the “total cost curve”.


- i would ask that interoute also work with vendors and understand the challenges they face when working with customers like you. spend some time with their income statements and try to understand why they cannot comply with every wish of yours.


We have many exceptional examples of partnership. My specific challenge for Ethernet and the access layer is much the same; reduced complexity, better economics and a common service management layer, not to much to ask?


- i am sure you do have many partnerships, and i am not privy to any. common service management layer, yes. interop between vendors, no.


 


odo <-- who appreciates that interoute cto has stepped up to the plate, while odo remains hidden behind 'odo'.





HOME
Sign In
SEARCH
CLOSE
MORE
CLOSE