ADVA Adds NFV Smarts With $35M Overture Acquisition

Optical and Ethernet specialist ADVA says it is creating an 'NFV powerhouse' by acquiring Overture.

January 13, 2016

5 Min Read
ADVA Adds NFV Smarts With $35M Overture Acquisition

Germany's ADVA has acquired Overture Networks for an initial $35 million in a bid to strengthen its cloud access business and create what it claims will be an "NFV powerhouse."

The purchase of the North Carolina-based NFV and Ethernet access system specialist, which could involve an additional $5 million conditional "earn-out" payment, will allow ADVA Optical Networking to offer customers a complete NFV architecture including programmable hardware, "comprehensive" software and end-to-end orchestration services, claims the optical and Ethernet infrastructure vendor.

Combining two of the industry's biggest makers of carrier Ethernet equipment, the transaction will also boost ADVA's footprint in North America, the region that accounts for the majority of Overture's business. ADVA is stronger in the EMEA region, which accounts for about 60% of its revenues, while the Americas generate about 32% of sales and Asia-Pacific just 8%.

"We're creating a number one player in Ethernet access devices… [with a] complete solution set for business Ethernet, mobile backhaul and carrier wholesale applications," said Brian Protiva, ADVA's CEO, in a statement about the various benefits of the deal. Combined, the two companies have a 21% market share, based on H1 2015 numbers from IHS Infonetics.

What will this do for ADVA's financials? Overture Networks Inc. is a private company that doesn't publish its revenues and ADVA isn't giving anything away currently: Protiva tells Light Reading that further details about the impact of the deal should be forthcoming when the German vendor publishes its fourth-quarter and full-year results on February 25.

The acquisition will, though, only add to the sales momentum that ADVA has been building up during 2015. For the first nine months of last year ADVA reported revenues of €330.2 million (US$357 million), up by 31% year-on-year, while operating income grew to €19.2 million ($20.8 million) from €3.2 million ($3.5 million).

It will also add to ADVA's headcount: The company currently boasts about 1,500 staff and will add 178 employees -- "mostly engineers and really excellent people," says Protiva -- as a result of the acquisition.

As for customers, Protiva says there is a little overlap but that while Overture has hundreds of customers most of them are very small. There are between five and ten key customers that are exciting him, particularly Windstream Communications Inc. (Nasdaq: WIN), an operator that Protiva has been coveting for "about a decade." (See Windstream Upgrades With Overture and Masergy's Bold NFV Play Is Customer Driven.)

Investors received the news cautiously, as ADVA's share price added just 0.6% Wednesday morning to hit €10.65.

Less impressive is the return for Overture's investors: The Morrisville, N.C.-based company has raised more than $103 million from companies including Morgenthaler Ventures, Questmark Partners and Globespan Capital Partners since its inception in 2000, the most significant cash injection being a near $44 million round from a consortium of unidentified investors in March 2011. (See Overture Secures $8 Million, Overture Grabs More Funding and Overture Gets $12.3M.)

Overture isn't ADVA's only acquisition in recent times, though it is the most significant: In November 2015 ADVA bought optical monitoring assets from technology incubator Mic AG; and Time4 Systems was added to its network synchronization portfolio in August 2015, building on the 2014 purchase of Oscilloquartz SA. (See ADVA Acquires Optical Monitoring Team, ADVA Clocks an Acquisition, Eyes 2 More and ADVA Buys Oscilloquartz SA .)

Virtualization and cloud focus
The key driver for the acquisition is virtualization.

Like all of its carrier Ethernet peers, large and small, ADVA wants to be a prime New IP partner and supplier to network operators that are building next-generation distributed cloud architectures. A combination of ADVA's hardware, including its access devices, metro aggregation and data center interconnect (DCI) platforms, and Overture's Ensemble software and hardware gives it a much more rounded portfolio. (See DCI Boxes Aren't Just for Metros Anymore.)

Figure 1: How Overture Adds to ADVA's Portfolio Source: ADVA Source: ADVA

ADVA has already been positioning its FSP 150 access device, which network operators deploy at the edge of the network, as a host for multiple virtual network functions (VNFs) and has engaged in demonstrations with long-time customer BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA) to show this capability. Now the acquisition of Overture gives it a ready-made portfolio of cloud management and orchestration tools that can be deployed in centralized data centers and/or at the network edge on white box hardware or boxes such as the FSP 150. (See BT, ADVA Show Off NFV-Enabled Managed Services and ADVA Adds NFV to Demarcation Devices.)

Overture's Ensemble virtualization portfolio includes: its Orchestrator, for automated service creation and activation; its Analytics tool; an open source SDN controller; the Connector, a Carrier Ethernet VNF previously known as Ensemble Carrier Ethernet (ECE); Registrar, a recently launched software license management and pricing tool; its Dashboard to provide a view of the various tools; and the 65 Virtual Service Edge (vSE), which it describes as "an open server wrapped in a carrier-class chassis." (See Overture Adds Function, Pricing Flexibility, Overture Networks NFV Solutions and Multi-Vendor NFV Trial Scores 1-Gigabit Throughput.)

Figure 2: Overture Ensemble Source: Overture Source: Overture

Overture has also curated an extensive NFV-related ecosystem that includes names such as Brocade, Dell, Intel, Metaswitch and Sonus. (See Overture's NFV Ecosystem Attracts New Members.)

— Ray Le Maistre, Circle me on Google+ Follow me on TwitterVisit my LinkedIn profile, Editor-in-Chief, Light Reading

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