Harmonic CEO Patrick Harshman said the company now has more than a dozen commercial deployments and “advanced field trials" underway for CableOS, the company’s virtualized Converged Cable Access Platform (CCAP).
Harshman, speaking Wednesday (February 28) on Harmonic’s Q4 2017 earnings call, didn’t identify them all, but said the biggest concentration is in North America and Europe. Harmonic has already identified Sweden’s Com Hem as its first deployment partner for Cable OS. Harmonic also has a warrants agreement with Comcast based on sales to the MSO and deployment milestones that include the CableOS product.
When Harmonic announced Q3 results last October, the company said it had “material” commitments for CableOS with more than ten leading operators.
Virtualized CCAPs such as Harmonic’s are gaining traction as MSOs look to become more agile in their service launches, pump more capacity on their networks, and reduce the space, cooling and powering requirements that come with traditional, purpose-built CCAP chassis. In the case of CableOS, key functionality is in software that runs on commercial off-the-shelf, Intel-based x86 servers.
Harshman stressed that there’s a “misperception” that CableOS is targeted exclusively at emerging Distributed Access Architectures. While CableOS is designed to “shine” in those scenarios, it also works on centralized CCAP solutions, with Com Hem being an early case in point, as it’s running CableOS on servers located where the legacy hardware-based platform was based.
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In addition to direct sales, Harmonic is also eyeing opportunities for CableOS via a partnership with Arista announced late last year. Arista said its EOS and R-series router platforms have been certified with Harmonic’s CableOS.
Considering its progress with CableOS, Harmonic also maintained its target of cable edge-related revenues of $100 million-plus this year.
But some analysts aren’t completely convinced. For instance, Raymond James analyst Simon Leopold issued a note holding that checks around the industry regarding the acceptance of some new platforms, specifically around virtual CCAPs, indicate that Harmonic could fall short of its projections.
“We have no qualms with the strategy, but expect the road to recovery is a long one,” he wrote. “We conservatively model Cable Edge revenue below management’s target of $100 million in 2018, while acknowledging potential upside to our numbers from faster Cable OS ramps and trial progress.”
Moving forward, Harmonic will continue to grapple with CCAP rivals that have developed or are exploring virtualized version of those products, including Cisco Systems, Casa Systems, Arris, Huawei and Vecima Networks.