IT LIFE: Ronan Kelly, ADTRAN CTO 1024 767 C-Suite Network

Ronan Kelly, ADTRAN CTO and President of the FTTH Council, takes us through his career in IT and experience with networks

What is your role and who do you work for?

My role with ADTRAN is the CTO for EMEA and APAC.

How long have you been in IT?

I have been engaged in technology throughout my career, which spans over 25 years now. My early roles focused on the electronic repairs of early internet access equipment, like dialup access concentrators.

What is your most interesting project to date?

Fortunately I have a long list of fascinating projects that I have been engaged in throughout the years, however my time spent with startup telecom operator Smart Telecom was definitely the most interesting to date. In Smart we were constantly breaking industry norms. We deployed so many disruptive and innovative services, all with a tiny passionate team who wanted to change the face of the Irish telecoms market.

Ronan Kelly Adtran CTO
What is your biggest challenge at the moment?

Education. The broadband access world is changing. A new paradigm is emerging which brings the benefits of software defined networking (SDN) and network function virtualisation (NFV) to broadband access networks.

Right at this moment in the broadband access space, it is reminiscent of the late 1990’s when multiprotocol label switching (MPLS) technologies were beginning to emerge. Many recognised the potential of the new approach, but equally many others struggled to understand or see the opportunity.

This was compounded by a scarcity in engineering resources that understood the new approach. Roll forward 20 years and we now have the same situation with SDN & NFV technologies. There is a large task ahead for the industry in driving awareness of the real potential, and educating the broader engineering resources so that they can deploy and maintain these disruptive approaches.

What technology were you working with 10 years ago?