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Get to Know: Suresh Krishnan, Chief Technology Officer, Kaloom

Get to Know: Suresh Krishnan, Chief Technology Officer, Kaloom

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On the lighter side of things we ask Suresh Krishnan, Chief Technology Officer at Kaloom about what makes him tick. 

What would you describe as your most memorable achievement?

When we founded Kaloom, we had a vision to create an open standards-based software-defined networking fabric that was cloud-native and programmable. I left a larger company and a secure job to focus on innovation at a brand new start up. At one point our CEO presented some of our core ideas such as a programmable dataplane, containersation and automation to industry influencers and a few well-known analysts and they believed that these ideas were too radical to succeed. A few years later we have managed to execute what we set out to do. We recently announced the world’s most diverse multi-vendor 5G Standalone solution with a leading global carrier. This is the first carrier trial built around a truly multi-vendor, 5G Core environment running on a vendor-neutral platform. For us, it represents a ground-breaking accomplishment that others thought was impossible. This is something most customers are looking to go towards.

Suresh Krishnan, Chief Technology Officer, Kaloom

What first made you think of a career in technology?

I’ve always been interested in technology and believed it could make a significant difference in people’s lives.

Networking brings people together and has the potential to improve the standard of living for everyone. The big picture goal is to get more people in the world connected. We can only do so by changing the economics of the equation, so that the cost of bringing connectivity to the next billion people on board becomes within reach.

Kaloom is focused on simplifying the lives of people that build, run and maintain networks. By automating tasks and avoiding manual configuration we make it easier to troubleshoot issues and save network operators time, with fewer truck rolls. Service providers can then focus on developing and deploying new services while reducing costs and ultimately accelerate growth and connect more communities, businesses and homes.

What do you think has emerged as the technology trend of 2020/2021 and why?

5G, Edge infrastructure investments and automation.

The COVID-19 pandemic made everybody fully aware of the need for advanced connectivity. At the same time, the proliferation of remote working has accelerated the shift towards a more digital economy and changed the way we think about networks.

5G networks will enable greatly accelerated Digital Transformation far beyond what we have experienced to date. But 5G’s massive increase in capabilities cannot simply be implemented with the installation of a newer generation of radios near the users. Supporting the extremely low latency needed by next-gen applications requires an entirely different network infrastructure, one that moves broadband access and compute closer to the end-user at the network edge. This means increasing the number of distributed edge data centres, or virtual central offices, by an order of magnitude.

Implementing 5G requires such massive scalability that managing the resources required can no longer be performed manually. Networking, compute and storage resources must be automated to scale effectively. Networking solutions require elements such as self-forming and self-discovery capabilities, zero-touch provisioning and automatic software upgrades to minimise human intervention and errors while saving time, cost and effort. As we get deeper into the 5G era, diverse dynamics conspire to make it more important than ever to automate solutions to manage the added complexity of the network.

What do you currently identify as the major areas of investment in your industry?

With theoretical peak data rates up to 100 times faster than current 4G networks, 5G holds the promise of enabling incredible new applications and use cases that are of immense societal value such as autonomous vehicles, AR/VR, IoT/IIoT and the ability to share potentially life-saving high-resolution real-time medical imaging – just to name a few. Telecom, cloud and data centre providers alike look forward to 5G forming a robust edge “backbone” for the industrial Internet to drive innovative new consumer apps, enterprise use cases and increased revenue streams.

There are also other pain points beyond infrastructure costs with the need to reduce 5G’s growing energy footprint so it has a less negative impact on the environment and to deliver much-needed software control and programmability.

How do you deal with stress and unwind outside of the office?

Being in an early stage start-up means you have to be flexible and available pretty much round the clock in order to address customers across the globe. It is important to find and cultivate the next generation of leaders in the company and enable them so that we can scale without overwhelming the same persons all the time. This allows for some scheduled periods during which you can take some time to unwind.

If you could go back and change one career decision, what would it be?

I might have entered the start-up world sooner. Being in a large company teaches you how to build structure and how to be successful. But the organisational barriers of large companies can throttle innovation.

PayPal co-founder and serial entrepreneur Peter Thiel said, “Properly defined, a start-up is the largest group of people you can convince of a plan to build a different future. A new company’s most important strength is new thinking: even more important than nimbleness, small size affords space to think.”

If you have more than 20 people, it is hard to be as innovative. And it is both exciting and challenging to work with an agile team.

What are the region-specific challenges when implementing new technologies in Europe?

Most of today’s commercial 5G deployments are based on 5G Non-Standalone, where the 5G deployment is dependent on existing legacy 4G infrastructure, which can be a “killer” for innovation.

There are technical and financial challenges to solve before 5G becomes a ubiquitous reality.

Because the population density in Europe is higher, you can reach more people with fewer Points of Presence. Initial deployments are occurring in dense urban areas where the cost can be amortized among more users and there is immense potential for additional uses among tech, industrial, manufacturing and a variety of Smart City applications. Enterprise 5G applications could create new opportunities for Europe’s SMEs, enhancing their growth prospects and supporting employment.

But change can be slow and complex considering the geography of Europe – the borders of jurisdiction, country specific regulations and legal frameworks present unique challenges of where to define the Edge and interoperability. Enterprises may want to keep the data local on-site. Thus, solutions are needed that provide specific features. The deployment of 5G networks depends closely upon access to radio spectrum, the basis of wireless technologies. As the rate of connected devices and their use increases, spectrum resources must be harmonized across Europe to allow for interoperability of infrastructure across borders.

What changes to your job role have you seen in the last year and how do you see these developing in the next 12 months?

My role is changing as the focus and priorities of the company change. I spend more of my time in customer-facing tasks these days while working closely to meet their needs. Previously my role was predominantly technical like choosing what products, languages, technologies we use and how we design and implement our products. Now I am more focused on executing and delivering to customers.

What advice would you offer somebody aspiring to obtain C-level position in your industry?

The only constant in this industry is change. It is essential to always be informed of what is happening and how change can impact your company (either positively or negatively) and learn to manage the opportunities and risks accordingly.

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