NTT Still Keen on Startup Vendors
NTT Group (NYSE: NTT) is known as one of the largest carriers in the world, and also as an innovator. That heritage means the company is still very much open to trying out new products, whether they're from established or emerging suppliers, says Wheeler, VP of the Global IP Network unit at NTT America, which is part of NTT Communications Corp. (NYSE: NTT), the Japanese giant's international business.
"We are always very interested in up-and-comers," Wheeler says. "We started out with Juniper Networks [whose T-1600 products are in NTT's IP core] when they were a startup. We are always very open to early-stage companies that are in development. Those types of early-stage players are often more accommodating to our needs."
By contrast, more established players want to push customers toward one of their existing platforms, Wheeler says.
And it isn't more time-consuming to deal with startups because vendors whose gear isn't up to snuff are generally pushed out of competition early in the selection process, Wheeler says. It's in later discussions with product teams and during lab trials that a rapport develops between NTT and a potential vendor, and Wheeler believes that can happen between a company as big as NTT and a small vendor.
But there just aren't as many companies today on which to test that theory.
"They aren't very common any more -– [IP router vendor] Procket may be the last one I remember, then Cisco bought them," recalls Wheeler. "We were talking to them early on, and they had some pretty interesting things to talk about." (See Cisco to Pay $89M for Procket Assets, Procket Puffs Tokyo Project and Procket Gets Unstealthy.)
Wheeler says NTT execs, such as NTT America's CTO Doug Junkins, still maintain and value their relationships with innovators in the industry.
"We know this is not a trivial exercise," he says. "Juniper is really the only one that has done it in the last decade."
— Carol Wilson, Chief Editor, Events, Light Reading