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New Metaswitch CEO Talks China, M&A, Vendor Lock-In, and the Coming Tsunami

By Paula Bernier November 18, 2015

Martin Lund was recently announced as the new CEO at Metaswitch. He has replaced John Lazar, who continues with Metaswitch as chairman of the board.

Lund was previously senior vice president and general manager of the IP Group at Cadence Design Systems. He also spent 12 years in leadership positions at Broadcom, and in engineering leadership roles at Intel.

Lund recently spoke with NFVZone about Metaswitch, the environment in which it exists, and what’s next.

The strengths of Metaswitch, a 34-year-old private company that provides software to help power service provider networks, include its engineering talent and other employees, its strong and loyal customer base, and its products. The company’s challenges, Lund said, are to continue to ramp up its growth, continue to expand its reach abroad, and make sure it’s able to successfully scale as it does all of the above.

Speaking of growth and scale, Lund noted that the transition to network functions virtualization is happening, but we’re still at the beach watching the tsunami approach. Metaswitch is working to make sure it’s ideally positioned once the wave hits, he added.

The good news is that Metaswitch is already experiencing double-digit revenue growth and was an early mover on the NFV front.

In its 2014 financial year the company reported 16 percent revenue growth and said that bookings were up 32 percent over the year prior. No single customer represented more than 12 percent of that revenue, although 82 percent of revenue came from customers in North America and repeat business represented 74 percent of the company’s revenue. In an effort to continue its growth, Metaswitch during this period also invested $35 million in research and development.

The fact that Metaswitch was early to virtualization, Lund said, puts the company three to five years ahead in the learning curve. Metaswitch today offers its Clearwater IMS core, which it has open sourced. Its SDN solution, Project Calico, is seeing a lot of interest, Lund said. And the company’s virtualized session border controller has gained some good traction.

“The Perimeta SBC is a very, very active product for us,” Lund said.

Metaswitch in the past few months has been tapped by AT&T to provide its virtualized SBCs for VoLTE network interconnect; selected by Puerto Rico-based Optivon to power a virtualized solution for delivering hosted PBX, unified communications, contact center, and SIP trunking services; chosen by TelAlaska to provide its vSBC so the carrier can deliver secure services from the cloud; and embraced by Telekom Austria Group’s Serbian subsidiary Vip Mobile, for which it is providing its vIMS core and vSBC solutions. Metaswitch is providing its vSBCs to help power the BT One Phone service, which launched last year. And Metaswitch last year announced Tiscali is using its Clearwater Core and Perimeta solutions for the carrier’s Indoona over-the-top application. Meanwhile, Spark New Zealand has installed Metaswitch’s Clearwater vIMS solution and vSBC for a VoLTE proof of concept.

In terms of geography, Lund said that North America is fertile ground for Metaswitch in that it has some very progressive carriers. Metaswitch has also seen good traction in Canada and India, he indicated. China is, of course, a large area of potential opportunity as well, said Lund, who indicated Metaswitch is still deciding how best to approach that market.

“We’re sort of scratching heads on that,” he said.

Of course, China is home to two formidable network infrastructure/software competitors: Huawei and ZTE, both of which are known for their rock bottom (or lower) prices. However, while such companies may offer super low prices up front to win carrier customers, that kind of pricing does not necessarily continue after the supplier is in the carrier network, said Lund, who went on to talk about the carrier problem of vendor lock in. Avoiding vendor lock in is one of the key factors carriers like AT&T have said is driving their move to NFV and SDN.

When asked why Lund believes he’s the best person to guide Metaswitch forward he noted his history in networking, the fact that he was in the systems space of networking early in his career, and has more than a decade of experience in the semiconductor industry. He also talked about his successes on the business end of things, noting he has led the integration of eight acquisitions during his career.

“I believe I have a very good balance of technical insight and also business” experience, he said.

When asked whether and in what potential areas Metaswitch might pursue mergers and/or acquisitions, Lund noted that acquisitions can be helpful to fill gaps or get a jump on emerging opportunities for which the company may not have time to build solutions internally. But he declined to offer details on what kind of companies Metaswitch is considering for M&A.

“Stay tuned on the M&A side of things,” he said.

Edited by Stefania Viscusi

Executive Editor, TMC

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