Asimov adds, “Thomas H. Huxley is supposed to have exclaimed after reading On the Origin of Species, “How stupid of me not to have thought of this.”
The same exclamation was pronounced during 1999 when many large suppliers of optical transport gear cried, “Why didn’t we think of building an Multi-Service Provisioning Platform (MSPP)?” Cerent’s competitors suffered for at least two years, until they copied that great idea, but by then Cerent’s ‘454’ platform led the industry in market share.
Making a cross-connection that Darwin and Wallace’s theory required was the creative spark behind the product realization for the Cerent 454 that Ajaib Bhadare and Paul Elliott architected and developed some 140 years later. Item 1 for the Cerent engineering team was available technology that allowed the packaging of compact ASICs. Item 2 for productization of the Cerent 454 was the notion of integrating multiple functions into a single product offering. Ajaib, stimulated by the availability of SONET chip sets and the cajoling nature of venture capitalist Vinod Khosla to build the optical transport system Ajaib had conceived on the back of a napkin, made the cross-connection. Paul recognized how it could be done – it was obvious – and he and his colleagues set to work.
“Making the cross-connection requires a certain daring,” argues Asimov. “Consequently, the person who is most likely to get new ideas is a person of good background in the field of interest and one who is unconventional in his habits.”
Ajaib dared, Paul invoked unconventionality, and Vinod took the risk on these two guys and their “cross-connection.” The Cerent 454 emerged and changed the optical transport market forever.