Two-year-old, Slovakia-based startup, Frinx, is doing software-defined networking (SDN) for SoftBank in Japan, and it recently won a contract with China Telecom. That’s pretty good for such a young company with only about 20 employees.
Of course, it helps that its co-founder and CEO Gerhard Wieser worked at Cisco for 18 years and has been involved in open source communities, including OpenDaylight (ODL) and FD.io. With Cisco, Wieser had the opportunity to work with large service providers and gain insight into their needs.
“I felt like there was much more that could be done,” said Wieser. “We founded Frinx to deliver products and services for open source. SoftBank trusted us in 2016, and we’ve been working with them as partners ever since. Folks say it is very important who your first customer is.”
Frinx supplies ODL software and FD.io software. “That has gone really well for us,” Wieser said. “There is a market out there for this stuff. Large customers want to consume it.” The company curates the available open source code based on the needs of its customers, then it adds an additional quality of service layer.
For SoftBank, Frinx automates functions in its edge network, core network, and metro Ethernet network. Frinx provides a fully supported version of OpenDaylight that makes it a reliable infrastructure onto which SoftBank creates applications to manage its networks.
“What SoftBank was looking for was a support structure for what they were using ODL for,” said Wieser. “We did a code review for them. They were impressed with our capabilities. That allowed us, a small company, to start with them. We’re punching heavily above our weight — in a good way.”
Earlier this year, Frinx announced that it was also collaborating with the China Telecom Beijing Research Institute to develop an open source-based network control system for China Telecom. Frinx created the UniConfig Framework that is being used by China Telecom to configure its networking services. China Telecom is automating Layer 3 VPN service provisioning, using Frinx’s L3VPN service module technology and OpenDaylight expertise.
Frinx is not disclosing how much funding it has raised. Wieser said the company “is profitable at the moment.”
But Wieser doesn’t worry so much about competitors in this nascent space. He sees companies trying to cobble together their own ODL-software based systems, and they need a company like Frinx to help them. “We have something that is maintainable, supported, and open source,” he said.