It either makes me feel old or says how long I’ve been in the VoIP business when I say that I first met the founder of Sonus Networks, Ruben Gruber at a Pulver.com Executive Retreat in the South of France in 1998. I don’t think they even had a product at that time.
Sonus was Ruben Gruber’s 13th startup. 11 of these companies either floated or were sold privately and the two that didn’t make it were absorbed into the parent. That was an impressive record.
Gruber is no longer involved with Sonus but the business he founded has gone on to handle over 43 billion minutes of VoIP traffic per month through 150+ service provider networks deployed in more than 50 countries (Sonus Marketing speak).
They came to see me to talk about their new Session Border Controller, the ConnexIP5200. Sonus is known as a supplie of media and signalling gateways and switches. Their core platform, the GSX9000, has always had a serious SBC capability but it is a big box aimed at very high end Network Operators.
The ConnexIP5200 is a 2U device designed to compete with Market leaders Acme Packet and Genband (was Nextone). It has an impressive looking performance and also an intelligent licensing based approach to marketing. Sonus gives you the box and sells you licenses. This means that it should be within reach for far more network operators than the large Tier 1s.
Because I took a photo of one of the Genband guys playing the guitar I thought it only fair to do the same for Sonus. The Sonus guys Kevin Baynes and Mehul Vora went one better and did a duet. They were indistinguishable from Simon and Garfunkel (or was it Morecambe and Wise? I forget!).
PS I realise that Session Border Controllers do make some people yawn (even more than the World Cup). Just to make it a little more interesting, the time I met Ruben Gruber I turned up at the Avis desk at Nice Airport to pick up a hire car. The woman at the desk told me they had a promotion on for an Audi A8 which was supposedly almost the same price as the car that I had arranged to have. I’m not a car person otherwise there would have been alarm bells ringing somewhere.
Picture me turning up at a poxy hotel in a car that cost the same as hiring the whole hotel for a year. When I dropped it off at the Airport on my return I got a bill for £550 for 3 days hire. In 1998! I paid up but had to get the travel agent to reimburse me and launder the cost through another channel. It was GEC after all. There was no way I was claiming that one on expenses. Ruben Gruber, who was a multimillionaire told me he travelled everywhere on an economy ticket. He did so much flying that he always got upgraded.
That’s it – picture below. Note how the guys seem to be doing a bit of a strut.