Thought-Leaders on Emerging Technologies – Atrinet

We interviewed Roy Silon Vice President R&D and Yuri Denisov Vice President Product Management from Atrinet.

Atrinet is based in Israel and is a leading provider of Network Management designed to automate and orchestrate network operations. Their solution leverages the power of Software Defined Networks (SDN) and facilitates innovation that ensures optimization of network resources while reducing operation activities overhead.

What does Atrinet focus on?

Atrinet is now running for 3 years. We were in a management buyout from NSN. We were the carrier of the transport division of Nokia solutions network. When we were still divisioned at NSN we sold devices. We were a device vendor and a joined solution management venture for our own devices, Nokia devices and Juniper devices. It was part of a joined venture between Nokia and Juniper.

Once the management buyout was completed we focused on just Network Management Solutions for Network Services Orchestration, Activation and Network Discovery.  We are now a software vendor and tailor mostly for ISP’s. But we also tailor to vendors where we can give them an out of the box OEM management system in order to save them the time of developing their own in-house solution. We recently also started providing our services and product to enterprises.

Most of our customers at Atrinet are service providers, and are mainly located in the US and Europe.

What did you do prior to Atrinet?

Roy: I studied computer engineering and I worked for a few years at an Algo trading company. Then I went to work at an Israeli device vendor called Seabridge which was purchased by Siemens. Then Siemens cooperated with Nokia and then was called Nokia Siemens Networks (NSN). I quit after about one year because I didn’t like to work for a big corporate company. I went on to work at a few small start-ups. When Atrinet did the management buyout and basically became a start-up I came back to work for Atrinet.

Why did you join Atrinet?Roy: I joined Atrinet again because of the start-up environment. I saw a new wave of potential and innovation in the telecommunication sector, which I haven’t seen for quite some years. One of the main reasons to work for Atrinet was because it’s a software oriented company. I like software much better than hardware.

Yuri: before I joined Atrinet I worked at Bezeq which is the largest telecom organisation in Israel, ECI and Nokia. Before it was Nokia I worked for Atrica, but this company got acquired by Nokia in 2007. With the management buyout in 2014 I was offered to join Atrinet and became a product manager. Which I still think was a good choice.

What do you love most about the company?

Roy: We have a very good team of people who are very smart and experts in their field. They come with a lot of experience and learn very quickly. If I look around me and think back about the companies I worked at then this is the most competent team I ever had around me. We don’t have idiots here, and that is quite rare (haha). It’s a really good work environment, very mature and experienced people.

Yuri: First of all, I like the flexibility that the company offers. Management like myself really gets the trust from C-level. They trust us completely and we are allowed to make decisions, even if they are wrong sometimes. You can really drive the company strategy and drive the product. It’s a very flexible and unique company.

What is the company culture like at Atrinet?

It’s a very open culture. Our employees have the choice, they can either sit in an open space or a closed office space where you will sit with just a few people. You have the choice to move around. It’s also a very agile company. Everyone has their own responsibilities, so we don’t need to tell anyone what to do all the time. We really trust our employees to be professionals. It’s also a very multicultural office. We have people working here from all over the world and speaking many different languages. Here in Israel we already speak three different languages; English, Russian and Hebrew. It’s A multidimensional, multicultural but small company. It’s very cool and interesting to work here.

When did you first hear of SDN/NFV?

We heard about SDN around 8 years ago and NFV a couple of years after that. Since what we are doing is network management solutions we heard about it quite early.

But actually, our product which is based on infrastructure on a software solution which was developed when we were still working at Atrica and Siemens. It was actually a pre-SDN solution. And this is 15 years ago already. We first deployed it at France Telecom in 2001.

What were your first thoughts?

Roy: Nothing new, we were doing this for a while. But then SDN was only regionally. It wasn’t as defined as today it was a very general thing. At the time it looked delirious to us. I never really saw a specific trend that really picked up, but that wasn’t the case with SDN.

Yuri: I agree with what Roy said. We got to see how the concept of SDN was born and evolving during the years and basically reborn. Starting from open flow to today pretty much something else.

Opportunities and threats in the market?

The biggest opportunities in SDN are automation. We are still amazed each time when we do demos and talk to analysts, network engineers, small and big services providers that still almost everyone is configuring services and devices manually. It’s really astonishing. With SDN the whole thing is to push forward automation. It increases speed, less errors and more flexibility to introduce new services to the network.

I Think one of the biggest risk is that they put the standards up for SDN and NFV. It is looked at as the network of the future that should be done in 2020 or even earlier. But they don’t think well enough about it. Currently 100% of the network is legacy and in the future this will be mixed. Not much thought has been put in it. They think that if they build a new network from scratch and everything is virtualized and magically communication works with the old legacy. We see a lot of difficulties in transformation and migration at service providers.

Another threat is that they want to create and define the craziest architectures that are very complex and supposed to cater to everyone. I would say start small, start with the actual requirements. The steps they want to take are too big and too complex. This is also the reason why it’s all going so slow. They should bring it back to reality.

“Don’t go to the moon with your first steps”

What do you like most about the industry?

Roy: What I really like about this industry working in software is that with Software you can do everything really fast today. Especially with NFV. With SDN you can really control the network. With hardware you can’t do this. Hardware is very expensive, the development cycles are still very slow and not very agile. With software you can immediately implement it, you’re not slowed down by hardware. It’s a much more flexible industry than it used to be.

Yuri: Innovation. Software is so easy to change and modify and deliver that it eliminates barriers to innovation

Who do you see as the biggest innovators in the SDN space?

Roy: I see SD-WAN companies as big innovators. I really like are Versa Networks and Velocloud. They implemented the product, they think in record time and they have really good products. It’s amazing what they have accomplished.

Who do you see as the biggest adaptors in SDN/NFV?

That would be the giant companies such as: AT&T, BT and Vodafone. The other smaller companies are waiting on the side-line to let the big service providers make some big errors. Because they can afford it. They are waiting to pick up on information from the big ones and get a more polished product.

Where do you see the future of networking going?

Network Engineers will become more technical and experienced with a wider set of tools than they used to have. They will adapt to 2 to 3 vendors and work with a lot of their devices. Learn some programming in Python and also develop DevOps and VM skills.

In the future Network Engineers will have a larger skillset and the work will get much more interesting.

Will the need for them go away?

I don’t think the need will go away. Even today for example, automation really speeds up the work of Network Engineers. There is not a decrease in headcount in companies. Network Engineers start to do more of the complex and important work such as changing the architecture of the network.

Then I also think NetOps will get in demand. This is basically a mix between today’s traditional Network Engineers and DevOps Engineers. This will increase and people will experience doing both network engineering and DevOps. This will become the skillset that every service provider will be looking for.

What is your biggest difficulty when recruiting for Atrinet?

Since all the technology is quite new it’s hard to find people with experience. People who have actually done work and got their hands dirty. People who worked with different orchestration platforms such as OpenStack are hard to come by.

Good DevOps personal are really hard to come by and their salaries are becoming crazy. We actually had an experienced developer here that quit to become a DevOps Engineer taking a lower salary in the hope this would pick up. And that he would get a higher salary as a DevOps Engineer then as being a Developer.

The problem with DevOps unlike with developers is that the development of code gets easily outsourced. With DevOps most of the companies who need this want to have the employee in the company and need to recruit a DevOps Engineer. The options are more limited, and this really creates a tough market to recruit DevOps Engineers. You basically only have 1 option and that is to hire. You don’t have the option like in development which is to hire or to outsource it partly.

If you could give 1 piece of advice to a Network Engineer what would that be?

Open the internet, go to SDxCentral go to the LinkedIn groups such as the Hamilton Barnes SDN/NFV group. Read what’s happening, find out things that interest you and start learning this on your own. You don’t have to do courses or go to university, everything is available free online. There are hundreds of webinars and trainings to find. Learn python, learn to programme, learn open stack.

Expand your experience.

Take two hours a day to explore the internet and learn new things. your life will get more interesting and you will get more experience in stuff you haven’t done yet.


In the next thought-leaders on emerging networking technologies we spoke a specialist in Telecommunications who has 15 years of experience working at the forefront of Network Technologies. He used to work at Huawei where he was the CTO of SDN/NFV and Cloud Solutions. Lots more in-depth SDN talk to come!


Want more thought-leaders on emerging technologies? Read back our interview with Silver Peak here

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