Jon Shaprio: Larger Than Life

One comment I made in article a few months back has turned into a fun conversation in the industry. I called Jon Shapiro “Larger than Life.” Apparently this led to much ribbing of Jon and someone even designed a photo of Jon as larger than life. I have yet to see it but I promise to publish it if I get a hold of it.
So who is Jon? If you aren’t aware, he is the founder of Alliance Systems and throughout the explosion of PC-based telephony systems his company has been a dominant supplier of boards and industrial computer systems. In the nineties before VoIP existed the exciting area in telecom was CTI or computer telephony integration where the telecom and computing worlds came together. APIs such as TAPI and TSAPI from the major OS vendors allowed the telecom industry — for the first time to take advantage of commoditized PC hardware and open development environments. DSP resource board vendors such as Dialogic, NMS, Rhetorex, Brooktrout and Aculab supplied the building block components allowing you to build an inexpensive IVR platform or ACD or whatever else you felt like assembling.
As the VoIP gateway market began to grow in the late nineties, the early models were comprised of industrial computers with DSP resource boards and software. When I took tours of industrial computer plants at the time many of them were churning out gateways for companies like Lucent and other big name equipment manufactures.
Alliance Systems has remained a big player in telecom and Jon tells me his company had 15-18% market share of all ATCA systems sold this year. He is beginning to see equipment manufacturers and service providers buying more than they have in a long while and an increasing percentage of sales are coming from this category. The percentage could be as high as 40% or higher going forward.
They have a new series of product coming out soon which will save 40% on electricity and allow 4X current density levels. He has a customer who is in a data center currently where they aren’t able to get any more electricity for a year. They are maxed out. These new servers will help this customer increase their server capacity by 40%.
The company also has a government customer who has a simulation trailer with 350 computers in it. This customer can now see a power drop and at the same time have room for an additional simulation chamber onboard.
In addition Alliance computers will work on DC power — a major trend in data centers. This allows more power savings as well as less heat dissipation. John says current power supplies are rated to last 100,000 hours but now with DC you can get 7 million hours out of a chassis. Part of the reason for this massive increase is the removal of fans in some systems which are a moving part that fails relatively often compared to solid state electronics.
In systems that require fans you can have a fan that blows air out from the top of the chassis allowing a data center to blow the hot air out directly into the HVAC system for warming of the building if needed. With these new servers the data center doesn’t need a cold aisle meaning increased density, lower cooling costs and more flexibility in data center design.
Jon always tells it like it is and I have never heard him so optimistic. He sees the telecom business and his business as well exploding with growth. There are numerous reasons for this. For example the need for corporations to record more and more of what happens means the need for computers and storage continues to increase exponentially. Phone calls take up lots of disk space.
Moreover, Alliance Systems has been in the communications space for so long they are well known as telecom experts and in addition with their new denser more power efficient computers they have a great value proposition.
Jon also spoke with me about the recent Dialogic Integration — his company has been a top Dialogic reseller for many years. In his opinion the company has significant challenges but seems to be executing well so far. As he puts it, Nick Jensen the CEO of Dialogic has ambition and it’s good to see ambition.

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