Kamran Sistanizadeh was CTO of ethernet operator Yipes
and is now CTO of Reliance Globalcom that took it over three
years ago to add to Flag Telecom and later Vanco. Now
he’s talking to equipment vendors about ways to
boost speeds of his integrated network to 100 gigabits a second
as wholesale and enterprise customers demand more and more
Kamran Sistanizadeh: a handful of suppliers
field-deployable prototypes of 100 gigabit equipment
that we can test
Kamran Sistanizadeh is looking for a vendor for 100 gigabit
ethernet equipment. As CTO of international carrier Reliance
Globalcom he expects to have a number of vendors pitching to
him as he follows his plan to speed up the
company’s complex and extensive international
"I’m looking at 100 gigabit ultra-longhaul
technology, and 40 gigabit ultra-longhaul for submarine
cables," says Sistanizadeh. "We want to create enhanced
capacity without changing cables. The future is 100 gigabits."
At the same time Sistanizadeh is re-engineering three separate
networks that Reliance owns into a single seamless system. He
used to be CTO of Yipes, a US-only ethernet carrier, which is
where he was when Global Telecoms Business interviewed him in
A couple of years earlier Reliance Infocomm bought Flag Telecom
for $207 million, a year after Flag had gone into US bankruptcy
protection. It was Reliance’s first move into
international communications. In 2007 Reliance’s
Flag bought Yipes in an all-cash deal worth $300 million. And
the following year Reliance rescued UK-based virtual network
operator Vanco, which was close to collapse.
That has given Reliance Globalcom, to use its current
international brand, three networks to put together.
"We’re consolidating them all into one seamless
network. They all had their own silo networks," says
Reliance Globalcom covers everything "from layer one up to
application optimisation", he says. "We have a full service
network" with enterprise customers and wholesale telecoms
customers. "Not consumers." A sister company in the Reliance
Communications group is a mobile operator in
India’s highly competitive market.
It’s Reliance’s wholesale and
enterprise customers that are creating pressure for speeds to
be increased on the cables. "We can’t pull up the
cables," says Sistanizadeh, so the company wants to replace the
boxes at each end. "We’re looking at 40-100
gigabits a second DWDM. I’m very excited about 100
gigabits per wavelength. We want to incorporate that into our
heavy traffic routes. Our network now is 10-40 gigabits but the
future is 100 gigs."
Reliance Globalcom has not picked a vendor yet for the
equipment, he says. "We are doing field trials."
The main supplier "for a long time" has been Infinera, he
notes. "But we are talking to all of them", including the
Nortel division that is now part of Ciena. "A handful of
suppliers have a field-deployable prototype that we can test."
Testing will take "a few weeks to a few months", but it will be
nine to 12 months before the technology is at a level to
support customers, he adds.
The former Yipes has deep knowledge of the sort of integrated
optics that can deliver high speed networks, and that means
Sistanizadeh knows what he’s looking for. "We are
working with suppliers to give us low latency switches
fabricated with dense 10-gig ports," he says. "We want
scalability, low latency, and quality of service and class of
service for enterprise applications."
The market’s demands have changed since GTB last
interviewed Sistanizadeh. "Then a millisecond of latency was
fast enough. Now people want microseconds," he says.
"It’s all driven by the applications." Financial
transactions need latency of under 100 microseconds, he says,
"and lots of money runs on our network", including
machine-to-machine communications in the markets of Wall Street
and Chicago. "They have to be done with the lowest latency."
Bandwidth and latency
Sistanizadeh’s challenge is that enterprise
customers vary widely in nature. "For example, there are
customers with 1,000 sites and low requirements for bandwidth
and latency. And there are some with 100 sites who need high
bandwidth and very low latency. All have to be provided for."
That means the network has to be designed to cater for all
"These are global accounts and all have different requirements.
That’s one of those challenges that is unique for
a facilities-based service provider."
On top of that the company has to deliver applications. "How
many applications and what is the prioritisation?" There are
applications such as Citrix — for remote access to
office networks — that have to run in real time. "This
is a massive integration challenge and opportunity." For the
past few years "talk has been about bandwidth, scalability and
ubiquity." But now the focus is moving to "application
awareness, optimisation and real-time control", he says. "Those
ideas are emerging."
Sistanizadeh is responsible for the technology, the
architecture, the engineering and the implementation. Reliance
has network operations centres around the world — in
Mumbai, Denver and London — as well as a number of
Vanco, one of the elements of the series of mergers that went
to create Reliance Globalcom, was not a facilities-based
operator: it made a point of being a virtual provider, buying
capacity around the world as customers needed it. But "it did
have assets for the aggregation of traffic, coming into central
points in different countries" and "we are consolidating those
with what Flag and Yipes had".
The aim of Sistanizadeh and his colleagues running Reliance
Globalcom is "one network that can offer all services". A
converged optical platform offers the hope of just that: "Now
you are talking about one major technology that gives the whole
set of services," he says.
The questions then are how to manage the service offering.
"Business process integration and lifecycle integration come
into the picture. It’s not just about changing the
boxes and the technology but about revisiting the processes. So
we are looking at the ecosystem of support. How do we simplify
our customer’s life, providing a seamless
So he is wanting Reliance Globalcom to have a portal from
which customers can manage their contracts, services and costs.
"It’s what I call customer empowerment."
That applies to Reliance’s wholesale activities
as well, he says. "If we can do all this for enterprise we can
provide a subset for our wholesale customers. But the notion of
wholesale has to be redefined. We deal with content providers,
major applications providers — those customers are
equivalent to wholesale customers."
There is, he says, a "legacy definition" of wholesale that is
no longer accurate "in the new world of major content
It’s content that is driving demand and
— as well as looking for ways to increase speeds on
existing cables — Reliance Globalcom is investing in
new cable systems, on routes such as southern Europe to north
Africa. "The corridor from Egypt to southern Europe to London
has very strong demand and we are building a brand new cable
system." It will be in operation in the second half of 2011, he
Reliance has played a significant role in the consolidation of
international operations in the past few years — as
has its Indian rival, Tata. Does Sistanizadeh expect further
"Generically, yes," he says. "But it has to make sense case by
case. Consolidation is the more efficient way of doing
It is, he adds, "a necessity not a nicety" and the rationale
of larger operations "will persuade companies to get together
to find the best ways of serving their customers. That will
navigate the industry to a trend of consolidation."
Customer requirements are driving consolidation, he
emphasises. "The global economy is becoming global. The world
is one place. I look at this as an opportunity. It creates
efficiency, brings new functionality."
But that itself creates new issues for equipment providers, as
Reliance Globalcom and its rivals demand smarter and smarter
equipment in the network. "Intelligence about services are
going to be more and more pushed into the devices," he says.
"We will create and manage the service attributes within the
box itself. Operators will ask: 'How service-aware is this
box?’ Service awareness is going to be the next
goal of equipment manufacturers to compete with each other."
It will be necessary for separate services "to give a unified
view to all service providers", he says, "so that Reliance
Globalcom and all providers can use the boxes in a similar
manner". Those requirements will "define the next two to five
years", he adds.
So when Sistanizadeh and his colleagues talk to Ciena, Infinera
and other equipment providers about the next, huge upgrade of
Reliance Globalcom’s network, they will know
something of what to expect. GTB