Shelef is one of the most prominent Israeli representatives in the hottest field in computers and communications: software defined networking (SDN), which is trying to bring to communications equipment the same revolution undergone by computers and telephony in recent years. The objective is to provide the switches and routers which transmit data on the Internet the same functionalities that
A conversation with Shelef offers insights from the eye of the storm. It is at the same time also like being "Inside the Tornado", to borrow the title of a popular book on management practices from the 1990s, which discussed how a new high-tech company should deal with the massive change in the market, surging product demand, and the rapid changes needed in marketing and operations. It is not clear what is overhyped and what reality exists on the ground, nor is it possible to know where ConteXtream will be in a few years, but for now, Shelef provides interesting evidence of how it feels deep inside one of the upheavals hitting the known technology world.
A new and promising world
Shelef's biography includes a lot of the grey side, the nuts and bolts, of the Internet. His career spans the founding and management of NiceCom, which was sold to 3Com (Nasdaq: COMS) in 1994 (one of
"Globes": What is the difference between being an entrepreneur in the communications equipment industry in the early 1990s and today?
Shelef: "The market has changed in a great many ways. But people who have been in the sector for decades tell each other that the communications equipment market has become exciting again. There were 20 years in which nothing revolutionary happened in terms of entrepreneurship. The big companies, such as
ConteXtream provides software infrastructure on which most of the online communications control and routing is supposed to take place. Until now, similar functionality was an integral part of the hardware which routed information packets, but the new world of communications equipment allows software to assume this task independently of the traditional network equipment. Until 2-3 years ago, transferring such critical core network performance to software that was not part of the standard equipment was unthinkable. Shelef and Barkai had enough experience in the business to know this.
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