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Q&A: Acra discusses his plans for Procket Networks

Former Cisco Vice President Roland Acra takes the reins at a router start-up.

By , Network World
January 06, 2004 01:48 PM ET

Network World - Six months after losing its CEO, router start-up Procket Networks has landed a new one: Roland Acra, formerly Cisco's senior vice president and Service Provider CTO. Acra, who reported to Cisco Chief Development Officer Mario Mazzola, jumps to Procket as Cisco keeps the industry waiting for its next-generation high-end router and operating system. On his first day at his new job, Acra shared some thoughts with Network World Managing Editor Jim Duffy.

What attracted you to Procket?

The team, first and foremost. It's a great bunch of people, a very, very strong networking team.

A great technology, great products that are out there shipping. All of the technology risk was now removed from the product despite the very cutting edge nature of what has gone into the product in terms of silicon innovation and next generation operating system structures.

And then my feeling that the timing was right. I think over the next 12 to 18 months there will be an upswing in the market for high-end routers. So being there now and building the sales momentum and focusing on the sales effort is good timing.

So is building up the sales and marketing momentum your first priority, or is it on the next generation of development?

Procket has a very strong technology edge to build on right now in terms of extra capacity or density, performance levels, the silicon capabilities and the software architecture, that now need to be exploited outbound in terms of sales and marketing. Definitely the priority will be cranking up the revenue engine and establishing both technology preference directly with customers, and then complementing that with partnerships where appropriate.

Does that plan include engagement with incumbent vendors?

There are discussions going on with partners when it comes to market coverage capabilities and these are all underway. There's nothing there to be announced yet. It's part of the go-to-market approach, to work on partnerships.

[They include] a pretty broad spectrum of domestic and international [candidates] from the telecom industry, either transmission or general data-over-voice communications folks, for resale.

How did you view Procket while at Cisco?

I had the view that they had, by far, the best available technology on the market today. So when it came to technology edge -- in terms of performance, density, structural reliability, in terms of what software and hardware architecture underlies the product -- the level of silicon integration and innovation is absolutely unique. This is not a feature which somebody else can do in 60 days and say, 'me too, I've got it now.'

Just about everyone I have talked to [at Procket] is the best that there is in the industry -- the software folks, the hardware folks, the architects.

Is Procket doing anything technologically that Cisco should emulate?

Procket is building its product on a few key premises, which I think are going to be the definition of what next generation routers are about: one is a very advanced level of silicon integration, and a combination of speed and feature capability. The integration is important because through the integration into custom chips, you get a lot of savings passed on to the customer. You get a lower price-point because of your cost of goods reduction; you get lower power dissipation, you get better density and space usage; and then the ability to have feature programmability at the same time as wire-speed performance means that you're protected against any new demand your network will place on you in the future.

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