It's early Wednesday morning in Europe and while ADVA CEO Brian Protiva says he got a good night's sleep ahead of the announcement that his company has acquired Overture Networks Inc. for $35 million, he sounds like he's already done a full day's work and hit the nearest espresso machine hard.
But his excitement and 150-words-per-minute delivery are justified: He has just secured an acquisition that, while probably not moving the company's financial needle too far in terms of sales and earnings, propels ADVA Optical Networking into the hottest communications networking market of the current era -- virtualization. (See ADVA Adds NFV Smarts With $35M Overture Acquisition for the story of the acquisition and related financials.)
All well and good, but that also means he's pitching his roughly $450-million turnover company into the NFV super-league against the multi-billion-dollar heavyweights of the next-generation networking world -- the likes of Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC), Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. and Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK) (including Alcatel-Lucent).
Protiva understands the dynamics but believes ADVA can make an impact because he's married his company with a very suitable (and affordable) bedfellow.
"In recent years, we [ADVA] have been developing hardware and software while Overture has focused on software, so that is very complementary. We believe that, with Overture on board, we can now offer the most advanced NFV offering because we have hybrid hardware -- ADVA's NID [network interface device] with integrated x86 server technology -- a white box approach, management and orchestration capabilities and a virtual NID [the Connector] from Overture," says the CEO.
Key to making that attractive to potential customers, though, is the "open" nature of the technology, he notes. "We are one of few companies that is truly open -- we can run anyone's software on our hardware and our software will run on anyone's hardware and that's not pie-in-the-sky talk. There are others that talk about being open but that involves a bit of marketing … we have the revenues and customers and trials that show we are open," notes Protiva, who believes the NFV market is finally going to become meaningful in 2016 and then gain real momentum in 2017 and beyond.
That "true" open nature sets ADVA apart from key rivals, he claims. "Sure, there is a lot of competition from other companies that also talk about modular systems and open interfaces -- the likes of Alcatel-Lucent [Nokia], Ciena, Cisco, Huawei… they are all aggressively going after the same market. But our differentiator is that we are truly open, truly modular, and we are innovating quickly, including in pricing and licensing -- we are all about best of breed. Those larger companies want to provide everything end-to-end and so build hooks into their systems that can be limiting for operators. We don't try to lock our customers down. We offer a proposition that won't trap our customers and that's what they want -- customers want to mix and match and see interoperability and we are happy to work with anyone. We have ecosystem partnerships with companies such as Brocade and Juniper and multiple firewall vendors," he adds.
What about systems integration expertise? That's going to be very important to offer to operators undertaking the virtualization of their networks. (See NFV's Looming Battle: Systems Integration.)
"We now have about 1,700 staff and that includes a strong services team, with a lot of expertise that is coming over from Overture," notes the CEO, though he recognizes that there are many very large, global integrators out in the market. "We are very focused on working with partners and we have a number of major VARs [value added resellers] and OEMs [original equipment manufacturers] that we work through, so we can be a part of other companies' offerings. IBM is a VAR partner, for example."
Will Protiva be quite so bullish once the post-acquisition honeymoon is over? Of course, but then Light Reading and everyone else will be looking to see if this new combination and the "open" story that the CEO is pitching has turned into customer traction and dollars. That, after all, is the ultimate test.
— Ray Le Maistre, , Editor-in-Chief, Light Reading