I currently work for Cree as a Distinguished Engineer in charge of their IoT lighting strategy, architecture and technical direction. I lead a small team responsible for all of Cree’s future intelligent lighting solutions. This is an interdisciplinary role where I interact with the business, engineering, research and development teams. I have a small development team of my own and I actually write code every day.
During my 2 years at Cree, my small team created a novel industrial/enterprise class IoT platform called Light Speed. Think of Light Speed as a secure computing plus secure SDN style overlay network running over an ad-hoc wireless edge network that happens to have a lighting applications as its premier service. First generation Light Speed scales to 100M customers, each with up to 100M endpoints. We developed a centralized cloud infrastructure that included PKI, e-commerce for features and services, software delivery and updates and a marketplace to allow customers to exchange analytics. At the customer level (aka, tenant) we created a second tier of PKI to isolate each tenant from one another, the lighting applications to support Cree including a modern mobile aware web interface and third party products as well as a very powerful geo/spatial analytics platform.
Prior to Cree, I worked for Extreme Networks as a Distinguished Engineer. I joined Extreme Networks about 4 years ago when a former boss, Ed Carney, asked me to come and help him sort out his SDN vision and strategy. I had worked for Ed at Cisco for a while, as he was the VP/GM for the Government Solutions Group. Ed was the best boss that I’ve ever had, so I took the opportunity and set out to shape the future of the networking industry and frankly correct the trajectory that SDN was taking at Cisco.
In my first month at Extreme, I pulled together all the thought leaders across the various engineering teams in the company and hammered out a comprehensive SDN vision and strategy. Team members included our Switching and Test organization in India, our Wireless team in Canada, our Solutions and Architecture team in Germany, Italy, RTP and NH, our Network Management team in NH, our Analytics and Network Access Control teams in NH and our Switching teams in RTP and NM.
I briefed 32 domestic and international analysts on that Vision and Strategy and received considerable positive feedback and praise for the boldness of the strategy and the impact that its execution would have on the industry. We joined OpenDaylight, the Open Network Foundation (ONF) and US Ignite to foster our “open” standards based approach to SDN.
One of our key activities was to fund and run an SDN Innovation Challenge competition in cooperation with US Ignite at the University level. With that effort, we had 15 premier universities across the US produce applications and products on our “developer’s access” SDN platform. The competition significantly increased Extreme Network’s profile in the industry.
We then set out to fund and staff the effort to build out the SDN vision and strategy leveraging the learning’s that we had from the Innovation Challenge
I then brought in a crack team of ninja class engineers that I worked with previously at Cisco’s Corporate Technology Center to put some wind in the sails of the effort. As a result, we made extraordinary progress on maturing the technology and preparing the SDN solution set for market introduction.
Prior to working for Extreme, I worked for Cisco Systems. At Cisco, my role was as a “Cisco Distinguished Engineer”. At the time that I received that title, the requirements to become a Distinguished Engineer included creating $1B worth of new business and the ability to influence and drive change across several business units. In fact, even today, if you divide Cisco’s annual revenue by $1B, that’s roughly how many distinguished engineers are at Cisco.
As a Cisco distinguished engineer, your primary role is as a cross-functional “technical evangelist.” For most of my time at Cisco, my area of focus was mobility and I worked for Cisco’s corporate Technology Center. In my role, I lead a distributed team of approximately 30 “ninja class” resources. The team was an integrated team with business development, marketing, acquisitions and engineering.
Cisco’s development methodology is largely waterfall with a sprinkling of agile here and there. While at Cisco, I’ve worked in both environments. I’ve attached an article that I did for the Economist (later published by PriceWaterhouseCoopers) on how we ran the Cisco Technology Center and invested in innovation (it’s a long paper, scan out to page 17 for my contribution.)
The greatest challenge with a company like Cisco is that at its heart it is a coin operated machine with a very short time horizon. If you want to introduce something disruptive, novel or forward looking, you have to do that wrapped in a short-term business case that is very strong. Without that short term ROI, nothing will get done.
Additionally, working cross functionally in Cisco is very challenging because each Business Unit (BU) is driven by profit for themselves around a narrow product family. Convincing a BU to add or change a feature for which there is not a strong business case for that BU but there is one for another BU if they do that work is very difficult and requires herculean effort and coordination to accomplish.
At Cisco, I helped shape their mobility strategy and a group of products and solutions around it including: Mobile IP, adhoc routing protocols, mobile routers, router to radio interfaces, open source standards and protocol implementations related to mobility, mobile computing frameworks, etc. I personally designed hardware, wrote embedded code at all layers of the stack, created user interface code, did some mechanical design, invented stuff and disclosed more than 60 patents, and lead a team in RTP, Montana, San Jose and France to build prototypes and later products and evangelized Cisco’s strategy and position around those products, solutions and technologies.
Two areas that I’d like to highlight from my Cisco tenure include what is now called Software Defined Networking (aka, SDN) and The Internet of Things (aka., IoT.)
With respect to SDN, I was instrumental in porting a Java Virtual Machine to IOS (Cisco’s network operating system) and creating a service abstraction layer over IOS in 2002. While originally rejected by Cisco – because the core operating system team believed that all of Cisco’s customers would want it (no kidding, ask me about that) it eventually lead to Cisco’s OnePK, OpenDaylight and ACI initiatives as well as their participation in OpenStack and OpenFlow.
With respect to IoT, I was one of the principal drivers of Cisco’s early efforts. I originally called this effort “Pervasive Networking” and later “The Internet of Everything”. Corporate marketing shorted it to IoT. To support IoT, Pascal Thubert (out of France) and I created some “low optimization” routing protocols (LORA protocols) that sit somewhere between traditional layer 2 and layer 3 protocols. I’ve also created interfaces between layer 2 and layer 3 to support “radio aware routing” – basically a means by which layer 2 and layer 3 can communicate and coordinate in wireless systems where link quality, throughput and connectivity are constantly changing. These protocols today make up the backbone of the IoT and are know by names like IP6LoPan and other such things. Heavy focus on IoT is wireless and that’s where my background in wireless played a huge role.
In 2005, I presented a paper under the guise of “Wireless Internet” at a Stanford conference hosted by Vint Cerf. In that talk, I discussed what would later be called SDN and the IoT which inspired a lot of the work that came out of Stanford on SDN and led to the creation of Nicera (which Cisco originally funded) and eventually became a multi-billion dollar business owned by VMware.
At Cisco, I also served a good deal of time working for the “Government Solutions Unit” (GSU.) GSU was a special organization within Cisco dedicated to customizing Cisco’s product portfolio for the US and other Governments. In that role I held a Top Secrete (TS) security clearance and contributed a considerable amount of innovation to Cisco product line, much of which I can’t discuss.
Before Cisco, I worked at Ericsson. At Ericsson I served as “Director of New Concepts” – which even today is one of my favorite titles. As Director of New Concepts I invented, patented and developed everything the world knows today as smart phones – but 10 years before anyone ever heard of it.
My team size was about 117 and we had a fairly sizable hardware and prototyping budget. I had a staff of an admin that served me and the whole team, a Business Development/Deals person, a dotted line to and from Ericsson Research, a hardware development manager, a software development manager, a user interface manager and a test manager.
The BD/Deals person worked with me and with some peers in corporate to support any deals, contracts, alliances, etc. we worked on. Notable deals that we executed were the creation of the Bluetooth sig, relationships with Apple, DEC, WebMethods, IBM, Sun, Symbian/Psion, IrDA, Unwired Planet and Microware.
I both worked for Ericsson Research (via a two way dotted line) and had access to researches. We did quite a few projects both ways and I received 1/3 of my funding from Ericsson Research and 2/3 from the mobile terminal group.
My software manager had 3 groups in RTP under him and dotted lines to groups in Sweden, London and CA. My hardware manager had hardware in RTP and Sweden. My User Interface manager had a small group in RTP and dotted lines to all other groups in RTP, a small team in CA, Sweden and Singapore for industrial design. My test manager had a small team in RTP supporting the whole organization.
With the funding from Ericsson Research, we did a lot of process development with “Q Labs” out of DC. We ran the organization using what we called an “evolutionary incremental development” methodology – which is very similar to what “agile” is today. We ran the organization matrix style with a member of various teams being assigned as the “increment master” for each increment of code/product. Increments (sprints) lasted from 3-5 weeks at which time we produced new stable releases of all code/hardware. We had an advisory board, which helped direct and account for our development activities.
One unique concept that we brought into Ericsson was that we developed “persona” to represent our customers. Using persona we focused all development activities on user experience. I can’t tell you how many companies that have had to license my Ericsson patents were shocked at what we were building in the mid 1990’s -- I can tell you that much of our insights were because of our focus on persona. I’ve attached several articles on our pioneering use of Java, web and Internet frameworks like webMethods and quest to build a suitable operating system to support the needs of ‘smart phones.’
With respect to smart phones, we developed three unique product strategies including a “divided concept” in which a phone is attached to a “portable computer”, an all in one concept (like a smart phone today) and a “no compromise” device (like an iPad.) I personally architected the operating system, defined the applications, created many of the graphics, chose the OS and UI frameworks, created an eco-system of developers and filed a substantial number of patents for the unique concepts and capabilities invented in the process.
In addition to creating smart phones, I was responsible for a lot of high impact changes to Ericsson’s product strategy. One example is that I helped create (and got adopted) Ericsson’s phone bus and mechanical interface (that funny connector on the bottom of the phone) along with the protocol stack for the bus and interconnects to the display processor. While that might seem mundane, it was in fact the first time in the cell phone industry in which phone accessories (chargers, handsets, car adapters, etc.) could be shared across all products and eventually lead to the development of Bluetooth (what we internally called Penny Link when my team created it for our “no compromise” smart phone concept.)
Before that at Uniden America, I served as VP of engineering. In that role I was responsible for all products sold in the America’s including radar detectors, satellite TV receivers, cordless phones, pagers, cell phones, trunked radios and systems, marine radios, marine navigation systems and fish finders. Products were developed in the US and Japan. Production and Testing was done in the US, Japan and Malaysia.
At Uniden, the development methodology was quite unique compared to my other experiences. All products were done with a “one time build” with spec, design, manufacturing and distributing being driven by one of several national holidays: Christmas, Father’s Day, Mother’s Day and 4th of July. For each holiday, sales would collect orders from the retailers for various products. Updates would be made to product spec’s so that “fresh” products could hit the shelves. At that point a design team was allocated for each product. Manufacturing would then quote each product in the quantity need for that holiday. If the price was acceptable, then a one-time build order was placed, product was built and shipped to our “Free Trade Zone” where it was then tested. Features that worked were documented in each language for the Americas, manuals printed and final packaging done.
While at Uniden I filed a number of patents around trunked radio systems (including ESMR and SMR systems.) Those patents were extensively licensed in the wireless industry as they covered much of the fundamental concepts of roaming, service selection, multi-service radios (voice + data + control), digital switching and digital telephony. Those patents are still largely in use today in public safety trunked radio systems.
In our American design center, I created several products including base stations, base station controllers, radios (mobile and portable), etc. around the SMR and ESMR systems. Additionally, the pioneering architecture of those base stations served as the blueprint for how base stations and base station controllers are architected today throughout the cellular industry.
In addition to my SMR/ESMR products, I managed all other products sold in the Americas. While I was only at Uniden for 3.5 years, I was able to increase their annual sales by nearly 50%. Prior to that, Uniden’s revenues had been nearly flat for a decade despite heavy investment and product acquisitions.
Before Uniden, I worked for AmeriCom and Motorola, both in the wireless industry. In all, I worked about 17 years in the wireless business before making the transition to network when I joined Cisco in 1999. AmeriCom was a ‘think tank’ or ‘shared research’ company similar to a Bell Northern Research setup so that smaller wireless equipment manufacturers could have access to advanced wireless research and development. Our clients included Kenwood, Icom, Yasu, EF Johnson, Standard, TRW and Uniden. Unfortunately, AmeriCom was put out of business when two of its stock investors sue each other in court (EF Johnson and Uniden.)
I started my carrier at Motorola in south Florida. I worked in the ‘international sector’ and was responsible for much of the software and software architecture for many notable portable radios. When my boss’s boss left Motorola to become VP of engineering at AmeriCom he was given two ‘hires’ that he could bring to the company – and I was one of them.
My father was an auto mechanic and raced cars for a hobby. I grew up in an auto shop and learned to build almost anything. I started building robots and custom electric motors and radios when I was very young … and basically have never stopped. In fact, I’ve been building robots for more than 50 years. I love robots.
I have a combat robotics team (Team Moon Robotics) and have fought since 1999 in BattleBots and the Robot Fighting League in many weight classes. You can explore some of our robots in via the robots menu item above.