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Ixia's New CEO to Telcos: Read Up On Cloud

On her first day at the helm of Ixia, Bethany Mayer joins Sprint and Intel executives at LR's Women in Telecom breakfast to discuss how the industry is changing and how telcos can keep up.

Sarah Thomas

September 16, 2014

4 Min Read
Ixia's New CEO to Telcos: Read Up On Cloud

SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Light Reading's Women in Telecom Breakfast -- As the worlds of IT and telecom continue to merge, Ixia's new CEO, Bethany Mayer, has some words of advice to those who have been in the telecom industry for a long time: read up on the cloud.

"If you've been in telecom for a very long time, think about the skill sets of those in the cloud environment," Mayer said here Tuesday morning. "Cloud and telecom infrastructure are merging."

Before she even located her office, Mayer's first act as CEO of test system vendor Ixia (Nasdaq: XXIA) was to attend Light Reading's Women in Telecom Breakfast, where she talked to more than 75 women about how virtualization is driving change in the industry and what it means for those with traditional telecom pedigrees. Mayer would know -- she has been in the industry for more than 25 years, most recently pioneering NFV at HP Inc. (NYSE: HPQ). (See Ixia Hands Reins to NFV Star Mayer and Ixia Names NFV Pioneer Mayer CEO.)

Figure 1: Meet the Women in Telecom Heavy Reading's Roz Roseboro, Sprint's Anne-Louise Kardas, Ixia's Bethany Mayer, Intel's Monique Hayward and Light Reading's Carol Wilson pose for the camera after a lively panel discussion Tuesday. Heavy Reading's Roz Roseboro, Sprint's Anne-Louise Kardas, Ixia's Bethany Mayer, Intel's Monique Hayward and Light Reading's Carol Wilson pose for the camera after a lively panel discussion Tuesday.

Check out all the coverage of Light Reading's NFV & the Data Center event on our dedicated show site here on Light Reading.

Mayer's joining Ixia at a time when telcos are grappling with how to architect cloud services and implement NFV and SDN, as well as figure out how to change their business models for both, and boost their bottom line. At HP, NFV was actually part of the cloud group, so Mayer sees the two as inextricably linked. (See HP Looks to Conquer Carriers With NFV.)

But she noted that while CTOs get really excited about virtualization, the operations people are having a very different conversation. They are concerned with the return on investment and if the technology will actually work, because they are under tremendous opex pressure. The job of the vendors is to convince them it does work with the same consistency they've had in the past. (See Introducing 'The New IP' .)

Speaking from the operator's point of view, Anne-Louise Kardas, manager of product and business development at Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S), agreed with Mayer's assertion on the cultural challenges in the organization. Her work at Sprint mainly involves finding innovative startups in the Valley with which to work, but she said the operator is working to understand what functions to virtualize first and which can wait a few years, and that involves a big shift in how they work with their vendor partners. (See NFV Not a Panacea, Carrier Execs Admit.)

"One of the changes I've been seeing on a day-to-day basis is the shift from 'Intel, Juniper, Cisco are just vendors' to 'What can we do to be more strategic partners together?'," Kardas said. "Figuring out the collaboration aspect internally and with external partners seems to be much more emphasized."

That said, all the panelists agreed that it needs to start internally -- changing company culture is as big a challenge as the technology itself, if not bigger. The "people problem" also persists in that the networks and IT teams haven't traditionally worked together well and still struggle to do so. (See SDN's Progress Is Worth Debating and Intel ARMs Itself for IoT, SDN Opportunities.)

"We have to represent ourselves as one Intel," noted Monique Hayward, director of outbound marketing for Intel's Communications and Storage Infrastructure Group. "But a lot of people who have been in that telecom space haven't always embraced the IT space. We have to break down walls even internally with our own groups to present a unified story."

— Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, Light Reading

About the Author(s)

Sarah Thomas

Director, Women in Comms

Sarah Thomas's love affair with communications began in 2003 when she bought her first cellphone, a pink RAZR, which she duly "bedazzled" with the help of superglue and her dad.

She joined the editorial staff at Light Reading in 2010 and has been covering mobile technologies ever since. Sarah got her start covering telecom in 2007 at Telephony, later Connected Planet, may it rest in peace. Her non-telecom work experience includes a brief foray into public relations at Fleishman-Hillard (her cussin' upset the clients) and a hodge-podge of internships, including spells at Ingram's (Kansas City's business magazine), American Spa magazine (where she was Chief Hot-Tub Correspondent), and the tweens' quiz bible, QuizFest, in NYC.

As Editorial Operations Director, a role she took on in January 2015, Sarah is responsible for the day-to-day management of the non-news content elements on Light Reading.

Sarah received her Bachelor's in Journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia. She lives in Chicago with her 3DTV, her iPad and a drawer full of smartphone cords.

Away from the world of telecom journalism, Sarah likes to dabble in monster truck racing, becoming part of Team Bigfoot in 2009.

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