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 capacity
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 network.
"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 Sistanizadeh.
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
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
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
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 variations.
"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 back-up NOCs.
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 service?"
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
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 adds.
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