New Jersey-based tech firm expands Ottawa footprint

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Ottawa’s Centretown isn’t exactly a high-tech hub. But if Ed Ogonek has his way, it will soon be home to the world leader in Ethernet software.

Ed Ogenek is the president and CEO of CENX.

By David Sali

Mr. Ogonek is the president and CEO of CENX, a New Jersey-based company hoping to stake its claim to market supremacy with a program called Ethernet Lifecycle Manager.

The software takes all the separate systems that make up the Ethernet everything from billing to operations and builds a “map” of the network, allowing service providers to troubleshoot problems much more quickly.

“Each of those separate systems has some piece of the puzzle, but they don’t have a complete view,” said Mr. Ogonek, the former CEO of Bridgewater Systems who joined CENX in January and works out of the Ottawa office.

“We provide a complete view. (Internet and wireless service providers) can deliver a better customer experience to their customers at a lower cost and higher efficiency.”

The company has had a small office in the capital on Main Street since it was founded in 2009 as an Ethernet exchange provider. The move to ramp up its software production side prompted the firm to relocate all its R&D and core business functions to Ottawa.

CENX has grown from about 30 total employees at the beginning of the year to about 60 today. Along the way, its Ottawa workforce has expanded from 20 to about 50, requiring a move to bigger digs.

After looking at sites around the city, Mr. Ogonek and his team chose Centretown to house their new global development and operations centre. The company moved into its new office at the corner of Bank and Cooper streets over the summer.

“I look at where we are today and it’s very, very exciting,” said Mr. Ogonek. “We’re working through very large deals with some of the largest wireless providers on the planet. Our intent is to make it a much more open, modern, dynamic, collaborative company, which is why we’re downtown.

“I moved to Ottawa in 1999, and I’ve spent most of my career working in Kanata. Here, I can walk to work. It’s just more of a vibe, and it’s really neat, actually. I love it.”

CENX also announced this week it has secured $5 million in funding from Dallas-based Comerica Bank to help finance its expansion.

“The path here is really (to) take those first couple of core customers and then build a global leader out of the headquarters here in Ottawa,” Mr. Ogonek said.

The burgeoning Ethernet software field requires developers with a broad knowledge of data networking, data analytics, web 2.0 and other new technologies, he added, and the city’s highly skilled workforce makes it an attractive place for a firm like CENX.

“What we’re focused on is how to we build a capability that really blends all of those together,” Mr. Ogonek said. “And Ottawa’s got a fairly unique profile of being able to have expertise in all of (these) areas, and we can couple that with really good, successful business experience here, too.”

The company’s drive to foster a relaxed atmosphere of creative collaboration among employees is evident everywhere in its new office. Developers work side by side in a large, open room, where they can even kick back on beanbag chairs with their laptops.

“We’re tackling a pretty challenging problem set and we’re using a very non-conventional technology to do it,” said software developer Peyo Tzolov. “The collaboration and the people here really make it what it is.”

Organizations: Bridgewater Systems, Comerica Bank

Geographic location: Ottawa, Kanata

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