Interviews by Stephen Ibaraki, FCIPS, I.S.P., MVP, DF/NPA, CNP
Rick Maule: CE0, President and Chairman of the Board, NetEffect
This week, Stephen Ibaraki, I.S.P. has an exclusive interview with Rick Maule, CEO, President, and Chairman of the Board of NetEffect.
Rick Maule is an experienced and proven leader as evidenced by the successful transition by NetEffect from InfiniBand to iWARP Ethernet technology. With more than 25 years experience in major corporations, start-ups and turnarounds in the computer and communications industry, Rick has served in various roles including general management, marketing and engineering.
Before joining NetEffect, Rick was vice president and general manager of the Mobile Communications Division of 3Com with responsibility for a wide range of communications products, including all mobile and wireless client products.
Rick received his B.S. and an M.S. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Arkansas. He also completed the Graduate Program in Business, an industry-focused MBA program developed jointly by Harris Corporation and the University of Florida. He is a regular speaker and panelist at many industry forums.
The latest blogs on the interview can be found the week of August 1, 2006 in the Canadian IT Managers (CIM) forum where you can provide your comments in an interactive dialogue.
Opening Comment: Rick, we thank you for sharing your deep insights in the area of networking and communication.
A: Thank you for inviting me to participate in the discussion with you and your organization.
Q1:What critical corporate lessons can you share from your more than 25 years experience in major corporations, start-ups and turnarounds in the computer and communications industry?
A: A few concepts come to mind:
Innovation is unstoppable: Every time I have heard that we have reached a technology limit, shortly thereafter, someone announces that the limit has been surpassed. I am sure there are real limits out there, but they are fewer than people think and I don’t expect to see many of them in my lifetime.
Finding the solution: A lot of life in technology bears similarity to the game of Jeopardy – many times to get the right answer, we need to ask the right question.
Building a winning team: My experience is that if a good team understands clearly what constitutes success, they will give their very best to succeed. The danger comes when the criteria for success is not well understood, is confusing, or is perceived differently by different members of the team. When that happens, management has made it hard for the team to win.
Q2: What career tips can you provide from your strong history of successes?
A: Some key things that come to mind are:
Q3: What specific major challenges will corporations face and how will they be addressed?
A: We are still in the information age. We use information for running our companies, understanding our customers, and creating competitive advantage. The challenge is the amount of data that we have created and are creating, as well as getting access to that data and using it effectively - without the sheer volume overwhelming our infrastructure, our budgets, and us. We need the ability to scale to meet our information technology needs simply and cost effectively. The good news is that innovation continues to provide us with ways to get there.
Q4: Which technologies will have the greatest future impact and why?
A: For the data center:
The combination of these technologies will simplify our efforts, increase our flexibility to address change, and reduce our costs.
Q5: Describe the evolution, challenges, and promise of multi-gigabit technology?
A: The information in your data center is a critical resource of your corporation. The growth in demand for this information is not slowing down – currently it is more than doubling year on year – so the infrastructure has to handle more.
This leads to the need for multi-gigabit technology and beyond. To complicate matters, each application type has its own additional unique demands – high bandwidth for networking, high throughput for storage, and low latency for clustering. This disparity in demands has led to a fragmentation of data center communications – unique networking fabrics for each problem. But this path leads to increased complexity and cost. The promise of the new iWARP extensions to Ethernet is a simpler world – one networking fabric that can do it all – without disrupting existing infrastructure and yet continuing the traditional cost benefits of Ethernet.
Q6: What are the pros/cons of the major competing technologies?
A: For each networking challenge, our innovative industry has produced a solution (such as Fibre Channel for storage and InfiniBand for clustering). But solving the problems one at a time has one main drawback – scale. Solving each problem one at a time guarantees no significant economy of scale because they are not interoperable with each other. So each solution is constrained to volume needed to solve each specific problem…except for Ethernet. As Ethernet has done in the past, it is doing again – it is embracing change to meet the new challenges while remaining fully compatible with past generations of Ethernet. The iWARP extensions to Ethernet not only solve each of the problems but also leverage Ethernet’s unique economy of scale.
Q7: Where do you want to take iWARP? Where do you see it heading in five years?
A: The iWARP extensions to Ethernet are the next step in the evolution of Ethernet. Near term, they will be used to address areas of the greatest pain in data communications – latency and overhead on servers for the most demanding applications of networking, storage, and clustering. And many of these applications will reap the benefit transparently – the applications will just run faster with lower use of the CPU. And Ethernet is still Ethernet. The economies of scale will lead to this fully compatible set of extensions finding their usefulness in a wider and wider range of applications, which will in turn drive increased volumes and lower costs. And once again the question for Ethernet will move from “why” to “why not.” At the right price point, iWARP extended Ethernet will be the only Ethernet … and the cycle will begin again. In five years, we won’t be asking about iWARP – that will be taken for granted; we will be challenging ourselves for what’s next.
Q8: What is the value proposition offered by iWARP?
A: A single solution that meets the needs of the data center– technical, ecosystem, and economic.
Simply put, we need speed without pain. iWARP increases the performance of Ethernet to multi-gigabit speeds while actually and dramatically reducing the resulting load on the server. In doing so, it also gives Ethernet the necessary characteristics for proper support of storage and clustering.
Unlike competitive networking fabrics, it not only solves the technical problem, but also addresses the ecosystem and economics issues. iWARP was designed to extend Ethernet without introducing disruption into the ecosystem of the data center. It is fully compatible with anything you already have. And an IT manager can address his performance and bottleneck problems incrementally – solve the pain where it hurts the most, spending as little as needed.
Closing Comment: Rick, we will continue to follow your future contributions to the business and technology community. Thank you for taking the time to do this interview.
A: Thank you for the opportunity.