In April 2020, Rakuten Mobile became Japan’s fourth major mobile carrier. Currently, the cutting-edge technology that made the world’s first end-to-end virtualized network possible lives exclusively within Rakuten’s service. But that’s about to change thanks in part to a suite of innovative solutions from a newcomer to the Rakuten family, InnoEye Technologies.
Soon after launching its network, Rakuten Mobile announced an initiative called the Rakuten Communications Platform, or RCP, to open up the network’s revolutionary telecom tech to all.
Since inception of the new network, InnoEye has been helping Rakuten Mobile achieve that vision with advanced OSS (operational support systems), BSS (business support systems), automation, and orchestration solutions from its offices in India, the U.S., Singapore and Japan. In October 2020, the company became an official member of the Rakuten family.
“Joining hands with Rakuten provides us with a unique ability to contribute towards this large industry movement and create a highly innovative cloud-based communication platform that is open, scalable, and highly secure.”InnoEye CEO Rajeev Gupta
Humble beginnings in Indore
Ask someone in America where they’d go to launch a tech startup, and San Francisco or New York might be their answer. In India, that answer would likely be the IT megacity of Bangalore. The founders of InnoEye, however, had something different in mind when they decided to establish their new venture in their home city of Indore in central India.
“Normally, when you launch a startup in India, you might look for something in Silicon Valley,” explains Rakuten Mobile’s Rahul Atri, whose relationship with InnoEye goes back nearly a decade. “But they wanted to do something for their city, which isn’t well known for its IT startups.” According to Atri, head of product, engineering and automation for RCP and a native of Indore, launching the company also gave InnoEye the opportunity to give back to their community.
It wasn’t long before InnoEye had gathered a team. They started out coding together in a small room, and even as they expanded to dozens and later hundreds of employees, the atmosphere remained cozy. “They were very close, like family. Everyone knew everyone.”
The decision to base their operations out of Indore also gave InnoEye a competitive advantage, as operation costs there were lower than in bigger cities. This helped them get the attention of an up-and-coming telco named Reliance JIO — a company for which Rakuten Mobile CTO Tareq Amin then played a driving role — allowing InnoEye to break into the telecom industry for the first time.
Atri was also working at Reliance JIO when he came to know the company. “At JIO, InnoEye did a lot of automation work, built a lot of platforms and services for us,” he recalls. “Their concept was that they were super agile. We would give them the requirements and they would build whatever we needed, super-fast.”
“Often when we ran into a problem, we would be the first ones to even get to that problem, so the solution didn’t even exist yet. We needed to do a lot of in-house development, a lot of innovation, a lot of gap-filling. That’s where InnoEye’s DNA of software development research, R&D and super-agility really helped.”Rahul Atri, head of product and engineering for Rakuten Communications Platform
For InnoEye, JIO marked the beginning of a period of rapid growth. Its expertise in automation and its embrace of forward-thinking technologies allowed it to expand rapidly into the global market, landing contracts across North America, Europe and Asia.
“Soon, they had so many applications and products in their portfolio, they kind of consolidated them into the next generation of OSS — they had a suite of applications that could be used from day zero of the network onward,” Atri explains. “With this portfolio, they started exploring the world and captured some of the biggest names in the telecom industry.”
A perfect fit for Rakuten Mobile
Atri, meanwhile, had also been exploring the telco world and had received a call from his old boss, Tareq Amin, to come and help build a pioneering mobile network in Japan for a company called Rakuten. It was here that they found themselves once again looking for partners.
“InnoEye fit the model perfectly,” he says. “They had a consolidated platform that was based on big data, which is exactly what we needed as an operator.”
Rakuten Mobile has been making headlines for having successfully built the world’s first cloud-native network. And for the telco engineers making it happen, this has sometimes been an adventure into uncharted waters.
“Often when we ran into a problem, we would be the first ones to even get to that problem, so the solution didn’t even exist yet,” Atri relates. “We needed to do a lot of in-house development, a lot of innovation, a lot of gap-filling. That’s where InnoEye’s DNA of software development research, R&D and super-agility really helped.”
InnoEye CEO Rajeev Gupta is aware of his company’s strong reputation. “Our OSS platform has been pushing the innovation that allows us to aggregate service assurance, service monitoring, customer experience and automation across multiple vendors on a singular platform,” he notes. “We’ve been providing our proven technology, our OSS expertise, our excellence in delivery, world-class talent and innovative attitude since July 2018, when Rakuten Mobile was still in the building stage.
“We’re looking to drive automation across all the facets of telecom functions from planning to building, building to operation and operation to support,” Gupta continues. “Through collaborative efforts and an innovative mindset, we want to build the first completely autonomous network and take what we learn to the global market.”
Taking the platform global with RCP
In the summer of 2020, Rakuten Mobile announced that it would be taking its cutting-edge tech global in the form of the Rakuten Communications Platform.
While telecom operators have traditionally relied on expensive hardware vendors to construct and maintain their complex network infrastructure, Rakuten’s software-centric approach enables it to employ non-proprietary hardware, allowing it to work with more affordable off-the-shelf network solutions.
Through RCP, operators around the world can take advantage of this model and start to break free of the shackles of decades-old infrastructure. The goal is also to drive down the cost for smaller operators who want to build their own scalable networks without the need for custom hardware.
The RCP initiative is another place where the support of InnoEye has been crucial. “InnoEye is providing core development for RCP,” Gupta says. “We are bringing our platforms and associated applications to accelerate the whole RCP development and maturity.”
“InnoEye’s portfolio actually acted as a base layer for RCP,” Atri explains further. After years of building and developing together, it was clear that InnoEye’s proven expertise was too good to pass up. “It now had OSS, it was cloud-native, but it also had automation and other applications that are required for any operator, and not just in the telecom industry.”
Already part of the Rakuten family
“I think InnoEye meshed very well with Rakuten’s key principles, Rakuten Shugi,” Atri voices. “But it was actually their openness towards evolution that made them a perfect fit.”
While many telecom vendors define their scope of work very precisely, shying away from building with new technology that can’t be readily sold to other customers, “With InnoEye, from day zero it was all about partnership,” Atri recalls. “They were with us every step of the way, brainstorming solutions to problems that no-one had ever encountered before, developing on the fly without the heavy head that some solution providers have.”
Having worked alongside one another since the very beginning of Rakuten’s new network, taking the final step in formally welcoming InnoEye to Rakuten seemed obvious. “Rakuten has a culture of considering everyone as partners. We’d been working with the team for two, two-and-a-half years, sitting on the same floor. So for us they were already part of the Rakuten family.”
A bright future
Gupta isn’t shy about voicing his ambitions for a futuristic network. “We want to play a key role in the journey of transforming the overall industry,” the InnoEye CEO says. “Joining hands with Rakuten provides us with a unique ability to contribute towards this large industry movement and create a highly innovative cloud-based communication platform that is open, scalable, and highly secure.”
When working with Rakuten, optimism is the name of the game. “We are optimistic about the future and we share Rakuten Mobile’s customer-centric philosophy of not just connecting people, but also being a leader in the telecommunications space,” Gupta says. “The Rakuten Communications Platform will disrupt the industry and pave the way for the next level of innovations.”