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CEO Chat With Rod Naphan, Fujitsu Network CommunicationsCEO Chat With Rod Naphan, Fujitsu Network Communications

Light Reading founder and CEO Steve Saunders talks with Rod Naphan, the CTO of Fujitsu Network Communications.

Steve Saunders

May 13, 2015

20 Min Read
CEO Chat With Rod Naphan, Fujitsu Network Communications

My ongoing interview tour of the leading minds of the telecom industry recently took me to Richardson, Texas, where I met with Rod Naphan, CTO and SVP, Solutions, Planning and Portfolio Management at Fujitsu Network Communications.

Fujitsu is one of the largest communications players in the world (165,000 employees in 100 countries, $50B in revenue) but sheer size provides zero immunity to the huge changes currently sweeping across the comms industry, and I was interested to learn about how Fujitsu is flexing its organization to meet the needs of its customers in the future.

Figure 1: Fujitsu's Rod Naphan: White boxing clever. Fujitsu's Rod Naphan: White boxing clever.

It was a fascinating and productive meeting: Read on to hear Rod's take on white box networking, "telco data center" (and why it might not be the right terminology), virtualization, systems integration and more.

[Editor's note: The following interview is long. If you don't have time to read the whole thing, just take what you need, as they say at AA.]

Page 2: How Fujitsu fits together

Page 3: From Japan to the telco data center

Page 4: Customer conundrums

Page 5: Opening up the white box

Page 6: On optical and IP

Page 7: The future of Fujitsu – and gun chat!

— Stephen Saunders, Founder & CEO, Light Reading

Stephen Saunders, Light Reading: How long have you been CTO for, Rod?

Rod Naphan, Fujitsu: I've been with Fujitsu since '94. I've been a VP in planning since 2005. I was the head of planning in 2011, which is effectively the CTO job. The title came last year.

SS: Must have been exciting.

RN: [Gallic shrug] Well, it's the same job.

SS: Sure, but it's nice to have a C-level title and it's more important the larger the company gets. Here at Light Reading it doesn't mean quite as much. I'm a little fish in a smaller aquarium.

RN: I remember when Light Reading first came online.

SS: Yeah, we were a little bit more aggressive then.

RN: It was an entertaining site. It still is.

SS: We've toned it down a little bit. We've grown up a bit, as has the industry.

RN: We've all gotten a little grayer, haven't we?

SS: The industry we cover is more about money now than adding terabytes of capacity.

RN: Now you've got to make the business case work.

SS: I am impressed by the size of the campus here. A million square feet. How many people work here?

RN: Somewhere in the 1,500 range. Also, we have two other campuses. One campus is in New York -- Pearl River, New York. And the other large campus is in Sunnyvale, California. That campus is also a share between FNC [Fujitsu Network Communications] and Fujitsu America, and Fujitsu labs.

SS: What's the relationship between the different divisions?

RN: Fujitsu America is an IT company. And Fujitsu Network Communications is the networking company.

SS: Do you find yourself working more closely together? I would have thought that that's the way the whole industry is headed, right?

RN: It's one of our key advantages. I call it the IT-ification of networking: the movement of technology into software and network functions virtualization and SDN really means that the way that network services will be built in the future look a lot more like the way that cloud services are built today. Everyone's saying that, but then how do you really do it? You really need a lot of expertise in the IT area. And I don't know if you know Fujitsu Limited that well, but we're a $50 billion ICT company; that's number 3 in the world.

SS: Which bit of the enterprise IT market do you need to move into the telecom service part of the world? Which bit of the DNA needs to be moved?

RN: A lot of the technology that Fujitsu employs and builds in data centers... servers and storage and the way we convert systems inside the data center which can then be used as platforms for NFV. So the whole idea and methodology of standing up infrastructure as a service, which we're number 3 in the world at doing, is effectively what we need to do for carriers for their NFV and SDN platforms. So that whole application delivery model and the IT support to do that, the integration capability to do that, that's the DNA that Fujitsu has.

SS: That's a huge competitive advantage.

RN: It is. And the other side of the coin is that being an IT company doesn't mean that you can do networking well. And there's very few companies in the world that actually have that unique combination of a true IT center of excellence as well as a networking center of excellence. So we've been doing networking here for 30 years… longer in Japan.

SS: Do you think at some point in the distant future they're going to become one company?

RN: There's more and more consolidation of businesses around the world. The Fujitsu Group of Companies is a more consolidated entity than it was, say, five or ten years ago. So that's a trend.

Next page: From Japan to the telco data center

From Japan to the telco data center

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About the Author(s)

Steve Saunders

Founder, Light Reading

Steve Saunders is the Founder of Light Reading.

He was previously the Managing Director of UBM DeusM, an integrated marketing services division of UBM, which has successfully launched 45 online communities in less than three years.

DeusM communities are based on Saunders' vision for a structured system of community publishing, one which creates unprecedented engagement among highly qualified business users. Based on the success of the first dozen UBM DeusM communities, the UBM Tech division in 2013 made the decision to move its online business to the UBM DeusM community platform – including 20 year old flagship brands such as Information Week and EE Times.

Saunders' next mission for UBM is the development of UBM's Integrated Community Business Model (ICBM), a publishing system designed to take advantage of, and build upon, UBM's competitive strengths as a leading provider of live events around the globe. The model is designed to extend the ability of UBM's events to generate revenue 365 days of the year by contextually integrating content from community and event sites, and directories, to drive bigger audiences to all three platforms, and thereby create additional value for customers. In turn, these amplified audiences will allow business leaders to grow both revenues and profits through higher directory fees and online sponsorship. The ICBM concept is currently being discussed with a broad group of business leaders across UBM, and is earmarked to be piloted in the second half of 2013 and early 2014.

UBM DeusM is Saunders' fifth successful start-up. In 2008, he founded Internet Evolution (www.internetevolution.com), a ground-breaking, award-winning, global online community dedicated to investigating the future of the Internet, now in its fifth year.

Prior to Internet Evolution, Saunders was the founder and CEO of Light Reading (www.lightreading.com), Heavy Reading (www.heavyreading.com

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