CommsDay can reveal that US telco supplier Radisys is going after a foothold with major carriers in the Australian market, its particular business model setting it on course to both compete against and cooperate with entrenched vendors such as Nokia, Ericsson and Huawei.
Founded in 1987, Radisys has been focused on selling solutions into the fixed and mobile telco industry for a large part of its history – initially supplying compute and switching hardware for everything from basestations to gateways, then adding software elements such as media processing and access protocols, and also bringing in managed services. Until recently, the firm sold only to telecom suppliers and original equipment manufacturers. However, when current CEO Brian Bronson took on his role five years ago, Radisys began selling direct to large carriers as well; early beachhead wins included Verizon and LTE cellco Reliance Jio in India.
“We’re a disruptor [that] doesn’t have legacy baggage… if [carriers] want to replace a traditional hardware vendor, if they want to decompose a particular network element, if they want to embrace open source principles such as central office re-architected as a datacentre, or open source radio access network, we have all those capabilities,” Bronson told CommsDay, adding that trends such as open source and virtualised networking had opened fresh opportunities for newer, disruptive players. And while Radisys’ shift into direct carrier sales has meant a certain amount of ‘co-opetition’ with its vendor clients, he said there was sufficient business available with large telcos to make it work – particularly with those same carriers now moving away from the older paradigm of total vendor lock-in, even while still maintaining strong relationships with established suppliers.
“The best example I can provide is Nokia, which was by far and away our largest customer for over a decade; we shipped them, at one point, over $150 million of hardware-centric products that went into gateways, switches, basestation controllers. We then [told] them ‘we’re getting out of that business… but we will continue to supply our media processing software’… and a little later on, we started to compete with them with our telecom open compute rack,” he said. “What you’re finding in the ecosystem is this ‘coopetition’; one minute you’ll be a foe, one minute you’ll be a supplier, one minute you’ll be a partner… Nokia’s still a key channel partner for us [as is] ZTE in China… but in general, because of the way the economic model is changing, we’re largely going direct with operators.”
COMING TO AUSTRALIA: Now, Radisys is aiming to expand into Australia as part of a broader focus on specific geographies.
“We are in active dialogue with large carriers in Australia and the region,” said Bronson, adding that New Zealand and the Pacific Islands would be a natural area for expansion down the track.
Bronson has already brought in Angus Stuart-Adams (right) as country director for ANZ and the Pacific Islands, under Ruchir Srivastava as APAC VP, and Radisys is also working with Australian networking and IT distribution company Newgen. “Our next step will be hiring a systems engineer [to] go along with Angus, but really leaning on Newgen, that’s a local presence here,” he said. “Further [along], we’ll be looking to put onsite engineers in these operators as well – [although] not all of them would be Australian residents, but would be onsite, living here and helping disrupt.”
The CEO added that locally dominant vendors like Nokia, Ericsson and Huawei “would be the competitors/partners that we’d be cooperating with! It’s not always about competition; it’s about how we rewire the network for 5G, and to embrace open-source principles… the reality is we’ll be working with them to help the operators disrupt, with the concept being not just to displace them but to get the operators in a better position to get what they want.”
“Around the globe, you’ve got these incumbent vendors and telcos do want to remove some vendor lock-in; at the same time, they’re trusted partners and there’s a lot of risk in upsetting the network if you do too much. Radisys [presents] a perfect, low-profile way to have your cake and eat it too.”
Radisys is listed on the US NASDAQ and posted consolidated revenue of US$212 million in its most recent full-year results.