The People Behind the Tech @ ECI (Part 8)
Rotem Cohen – Director of System Architecture
This week I had the opportunity to speak with Rotem Cohen, our director of system architecture. I remember the first time I saw Rotem, he was speaking on the benefits of our fabric design. This was during the first year of my tenure here at ECI and I remember thinking, just how complex this stuff was, and how at ease he was with standing in front of the room and explaining it to everyone. After all this time, I finally found an excuse to sit down with Rotem and talk to him about his time, position and challenges here at ECI. See for yourself.
A bird’s eye view
Status: Married + 3 kids
Tenure: 10+ years
Q: A few things no one knows about you...
- I love to bake breads
- I am an innovator at heart. Once I tried to make a vacuum robot out of the lid of a garbage can.
- I almost relocated to China with my previous company
Q: What does your role entail?
It is a bit difficult to condense into one statement, but our job here is to develop the end to end view of all ECI products and solutions and how they work together. We take the marketing requirements and translate them into system requirements for actual products and solutions. Besides that we are often asked to tailor solutions to specific customer needs, which is really interesting because then we often have to find creative solutions for some requirements.
I manage a group of
- 25 system engineers & UX experts for all ECI products
- And work with many peers and cross-functional teams, mainly in China and India
We invest a lot of effort on the end to end system requirements, across all product lines. Because while in theory everything seems to work well, at the end some small detail can trip up the whole system.
Q: How did you come to work at ECI?
Truth be told, I almost relocated to China, with my previous company. But in the end I decided not to. When I looked for a new position, ECI was just incorporating packet capabilities into one of our earlier product lines. I am a packet guy, and when I learned about their plans, the fit to my background and experience seemed to work.
Beyond that, ECI was known for its robust, leading-edge products, even then. I met a lot of smart people, who were technically strong and advanced. And during my tenure here, I have had many opportunities to expand my role and move into new areas. When my employees have expressed an interest in moving into adjacent areas or products – I make sure to make that happen. The company has always been very open to changes.
Q. What do you like most about working at ECI?
The technology is extremely interesting, and while a bit of a cliché our entrance into the 5G world opens up new areas to learn and discover. There are always new technologies to experience such as segment routing and slicing, new problems to solve, and new solutions to develop. I have the privilege of working with a diverse set of people from around the world and from different mindsets and cultures. I learn something new every day.
Q: Success Story
Our incorporation of IP/MPLS capabilities into our Neptune (NPT) product line.
A few years ago we decided to incorporate IP/MPLS into our packet Neptune product line. At the beginning we looked to acquire another company and incorporate its IP. In the end, we decided that we’d rather develop IP/MPLS capabilities on our own. This wasn’t an easy decision, as many other companies have tried and failed. But we succeeded. And while it was difficult and sometimes challenging, we managed to build a product I am proud of, one which doesn’t fall short of our competitors.
If I had to outline what made us succeed, it would be the following:
- It starts with acknowledging the size of the problem/task
- Continues with excellent team work across functions and across our different R&D centers worldwide
- I believe we were also lucky enough to make the right choices in terms of technologies, both software and hardware, that we chose to incorporate.
- And of course, the transition from transport mindset to the IP mindset is a change the company managed to make. Now we have a lot of IP people who weren’t like that at the time.
Q. How have your challenges changed over the years?
Some of my challenges include making the right technology choices. Especially in the land of hardware where the world is changing daily. Incorporating new transport processes and capabilities, new packet capabilities these are all part and parcel of our work here. Even the move toward open, disaggregated software and hardware, we’ve embraced.
On a personal note, coming from a packet background, my personal challenge is to better understand optics. And while I may not be the biggest expert, I have a decent understanding of optical today. And of course, as you move up the management chain you run into management challenges. And managing a group of very experienced and knowledgeable people makes this all the more challenging.
Q. In your opinion, how will the telecom industry change over the next 5-10 years?
I believe we will see the trends of open, disaggregation catch on all the more. 5G will be our universe, everything will be connected to 5G or will be an important asset for 5G. We will see more automation, more orchestration, and fewer manual operations. You’re either there or you will be left behind.
Q. How would your summarize your experience here?
ECI enables you to work at the forefront of innovation, while leaving wide berth for personal development. This is a winning combination!
Let’s finish with the questionnaire, which side of the following terms are you?
|Packet or optical?||Packet-Optical|
|Virtualized or software defined?||Software-defined|
|5G or 4G/LTE?||5G|
|Open-source or home-grown||A little bit of both|
|Service providers or non-service providers (utilities, etc.)?||Service provider|
|Disaggregation or integration?||Disaggregation|