5 minutes with Richard Brandon

This article was published in Data Center Magazine on May 31, 2023. You can read the original article here.  

Richard Brandon is the VP of Strategy at RtBrick, a leading provider of cloud-native routing software, precisely designed for connectivity companies.

Within the software company, Brandon’s role includes overseeing strategy and partnerships, while also heading its marketing efforts – for which he’s been widely recognised as a leading industry influencer.

Tell us about your education and career path. 

I studied Physics at Imperial College in London, specialising in astrophysics. So you should be warned – if you ever bring up the topic of space into a conversation, then it could turn into a long night. 

Sadly, as interesting as the universe is, employment opportunities off-planet are limited. So, my first job took me into telecommunications, working on fibre optics for a large telco.

I had a pretty technical role for a few years, before moving into product management and, eventually, more of a marketing role. 

I moved into the vendor industry, working at Cisco and Juniper, before heading back to a smaller operator, and, since then, I’ve run marketing for a few start-ups, helping to take one public. 

I think every company I’ve worked for has been smaller than the last. I’m not sure what that says about me. Either I don’t like people very much or I like environments where I can get things done quickly; the latter I hope!

How are you driving digital transformation in your organisation?

We’re really bringing a cloud-native approach to telecoms and connectivity providers’ networks. That means running routing software on open bare-metal hardware, with a choice of platforms and vendors. 

Our network operating system runs in a container on a Linux OS. And the whole system is controlled through open APIs. We’re seeing a lot of interest as carriers see advantages in terms of cost, automation and flexibility. For example, Deutsche Telekom has deployed our software in its production network, acting as a Broadband Network Gateway (BNG) to deliver a next-generation network edge. It’s giving operators access to a similar operating model that the huge cloud-natives have been enjoying. 

What are you doing to improve your operational sustainability?

The whole area of disaggregation brings some interesting sustainability benefits. The bare-metal switch hardware we run on uses commercial silicon that is brought to market 1-2 years faster than proprietary systems. So, it tends to be more advanced in terms of the power it requires to deliver the same performance.

On top of this, routing software and hardware have always been sold as single integrated systems. If you want to change to a new software vendor, you can’t swap out the hardware; you have to replace it, which then adds to e-waste.

And, you can’t repurpose old hardware to do something else – like you can with a computer, for example. Our software runs on open hardware, which changes all of that, making the hardware more flexible and increasing its longevity. 

What do the next 12 months hold for you and the company?

I think we’ll see more Tier-1 carriers adopting disaggregation, not just in the network edge, where we play, but also in the IP core and the RAN. And we’ll see more maturity in the solutions. 

Up until now, they’ve done the things that traditional systems could do, but at lower cost and with more flexibility. But now, we should expect them to surpass the performance of traditional systems in some aspects, too. For example, our software can now beat any traditional integrated system in aspects of resiliency, like relearning the internet routing table faster than anything else.