Catching Up with Metaswitch's CEO as NFV and SDN Move Forward

By Paula Bernier August 11, 2015

Metaswitch was early to recognize and embrace the software telco trend. Now this approach is being widely adopted by service providers, which have been testing and now are beginning to implement network functions virtualization and software-defined networking solutions. So we thought now would be a good time to touch base with Metaswitch CEO John Lazar for a quick update.

In the early 2000s, Metaswitch began to deliver scalable, cross-platform software—with the value on software and that software running on standard hardware whenever possible. Now this idea is widely accepted, and the drive is on to get it into telco networks. But, as Lazar points out, although the move toward NFV and SDN has accelerated faster than most people expected, this movement is still in its infancy. Carriers, he indicated, are still not sure how all of this will pan out for them, and it will take time to build out the networks in a scalable way.

One carrier that’s leading the way on this front is AT&T, which has named Metaswitch among its Domain 2.0 suppliers. Lazar declined to discuss the specific Metaswitch products involved, but said that at the moment there are “four active strands on current projects.”

While carriers like AT&T have chosen vendors and even introduced their first SDN-based services, IHS Infonetics has noted in at least a couple of reports that NFV and SDN have caused some carriers to put off investments in their network infrastructure so they have time to see just how this network transformation thing shakes out.

Lazar agrees that the last six to nine months have definitely been a transitional period in the industry, and that some suppliers have noted that in announcing the quarterly finances. Carriers, he added, are using the move to software-centric networks as an opportunity to review their business models as well as their technology, so there’s an expected move toward more subscription-based models.

Image via Shutterstock

Despite all this industry change, he said, Metaswitch is tracking for good solid growth and good profitability.

“We’re feeling very confident about revenue at the moment,” he said.

Tiscali in Italy is also among Metaswitch’s other customers; it downloaded Metaswitch’s Clearwater from GitHub, and it is now running around the world on Amazon data centers. Clearwater allows for virtualization, enabling new services and capabilities to be deployed more quickly.

“There are carriers doing a number of different things on the SDN front,” noted Lazar. “Some will be internal efficiency plays rather than something that will be visible by an end user.”

For example, he said, a carrier could leverage SDN to make Ethernet rollouts more efficient. Some of the big cable companies, meanwhile, are working to do smart content distribution, said Lazar. That will enable the cablecos to tune in a very granular way where content is served up from using SDN techniques, he said, adding such implementations are expected to turn up next year.

In addition to its traditional cableco and telco, Metaswitch is also selling to over-the-top players (two of them at the moment) and many of the top Fortune 500 companies. In fact, the first deployments of Metaswitch’s Calico solution will be by global enterprises, he said. Calico offers a more scalable way of doing virtual networking.

So what’s next for Metaswitch?

Lazar said the company has a number of projects under way. Here he talks about the sophisticated analytics the company has built into its products, and its service assurance product. There’s an opportunity to extend those products to help service providers with what’s happening on their virtual networks, he said. Secondly, he said, Metaswitch will expand Calico to focus on SDN in addition to virtualization.

Edited by Dominick Sorrentino

Executive Editor, TMC

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