DZS buys RIFT for network orchestration and software automation play

March 4, 2021
DZS plans to leverage the acquisition to provide bundled network orchestration and automation capabilities along with its existing mobile, broadband, and enterprise offerings as well as deliver the technology as a standalone product within DZS Cloud.

Continuing to expand its capabilities via acquisition, DZS (NASDAQ: DZSI) has announced the purchase of RIFT, a company that has developed network orchestration and automation platforms. DZS plans to leverage the acquisition to provide bundled network orchestration and automation capabilities along with its existing mobile, broadband, and enterprise offerings as well as deliver the technology as a standalone product within its new DZS Cloud portfolio. Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.

RIFT was founded in 2014 in the Boston area (as "RIFT.io") by Greg Alden, Tim Mortsolf, and Matt Harper to develop open sourced and standards-based platforms designed to automate the deployment and operation of virtualized network services and functions. RIFT has yet to disclose any customers for its RIFT.ware platform, although Noel Charath, former vice president, service delivery at RIFT and now senior vice president of DZS Cloud Operations, indicates the company has some. “With some of the most innovative and advanced carriers in the world already DZS customers, we expect to find fertile ground among these operators to leverage the DZS Cloud platform to monetize their 5G and fixed network investments with high-value enterprise services, private wireless/5G as a service, network-as-a-service (NaaS), and SD-WAN through SDN and NFV automation,” he said via the press release announcing the deal.

DZS President and CEO Charlie Vogt told Lightwave that RIFT has worked closely with several Tier 1 carriers, particularly in North America and Western Europe. The company also was part of the Skynet II team that received the Outstanding Catalyst Depicting Business Assurance Awareness award at TM Forum Digital Transformation World in 2019, alongside BT, Chunghwa Telecom, Deutsche Telekom, Du, NTT Group, Orange, Verizon, Vodafone, Telecom Italia, and Telus. Vogt said that RIFT’s small size limited its growth potential, an obstacle the acquisition by DZS should help it overcome.

Vogt predicted the new assets should enhance DZS’s capabilities in each of its product areas, particularly mobile networking. The addition of RIFT will enable cloud based support of OpenRAN or vRAN virtual network functions (VNFs) and containerized network functions (CNFs) as well as 5G network slicing, for example. Vogt acknowledged that network orchestration and network slicing are capabilities often touted by such large systems and software houses as Ciena, Infinera, and Nokia, among others. Vogt said he views Ciena and Infinera, with their roots in optical transport, as complementary players to DZS, with Nokia and such broadband technology companies as ADTRAN and Calix as more direct competitors. Both he and DZS CTO Andrew Bender see the acquisition of RIFT as positioning DZS well against these companies, with the level of RIFT’s capabilities in cloud-based software-defined networking (SDN) control, deployment automation, and scaled machine data management and analytics as differentiators for the new DZS Cloud platform.

DZS will maintain RIFT’s software development center in Bangalore, India, as well as a Boston area product operations center, likely RIFT’s former headquarters in Chelmsford, MA. Vogt and Bender expect to be able to offer RIFT’s capabilities within DZS Cloud on a standalone basis quickly; the ability to offer DZS’s existing products and the RIFT capabilities as an integrated whole likely won’t happen until later this year.

DZS adds RIFT shortly after announcing new SDN capabilities for its newly renamed Velocity and DZS Chronos lines powered by its sdNOS operating system (see DZS unveils Velocity broadband line powered by sdNOS operating system) as well as its plans to acquire DWDM systems company Optelian (see DZS to acquire Optelian to expand 5G play).

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