Home >> November 2019 Edition >> A Conversation with Ahsun Murad
A Conversation with Ahsun Murad
Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Optimal Satcom

Ahsun Murad co-founded Optimal Satcom 17 years ago with a business partner, Rebecca Fahrmeier, who serves as the Chief Technical Officer at Optimal Satcom. The company provides enterprise software systems, capacity management, resource optimization, business operations and intelligence tools that are specifically designed for the SATCOM industry.

These are broad-featured systems that help their customers perform many of their core engineering, operation, management, and commercial functions related to running their business in an integrated manner. Their customers include more than 15 satellite operators, major satellite service providers plus a number of U.S. Government agencies. Optimal Satcom also provides consulting and training services.

According to Ahsun, The company has always been focused on resource management for satellites. In the satellite space, they help customers to efficiently plan, manage, and use satellites, the satellite network and the entire ecosystem that provides services over satellites. According to Ahsun, the company works in three primary business areas:

(1) They support satellite operators with tools and systems to plan and manage their satellite resources; working with more than 15 global and regional satellite operators.
(2) They support satellite service providers, including some of the largest satellite service providers and major providers to the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD).
(3) They work with a number of U.S. Government agencies, including DoD and civilian agencies, and support certain specialized satellite networks.

Optimal Satcom’s core products are enterprise level software systems that their customers use within their organizations to help run their businesses. The firm comes to IBC each year as it gives them an opportunity to see their customers from all over the world to maintain close business-to-business engagements — with client companies from Europe, Asia, North and South America, Australia, and Africa.

According to Ahsun, the company works very closely with their customers as part of their team. Optimal Satcom engages constantly with its customers to help them with technical challenges, adoption of new technologies, analysis and processing of technical data, software support, etc., and in general to help them solve the problems they run into throughout the course of their work. The business is support intensive and Optimal Satcom engages heavily with its customers, taking a very “hands-on” approach in providing support).

In the niche areas where Optimal Satcom operates, those being enterprise level software systems for the satellite industry, Ahsun related that they are the only company that provides this product — there are no real competitors in this business area. The company possesses strong customer loyalty because clients know the firm is always there for its customers whenever they are needed to solve challenging issues.

Currently, much is changing in the industry, so Ahsun said it’s hard to offer predictions as to future trends, as the odds are that such prognostications will all probably be somewhat inaccurate. Predictions made five years ago are irrelevant now, but he believes this good, as it means technological evolution is occurring, and that creates opportunities for Optimal Satcom because their business is all about helping customers make use of evolving technologies available in terms of new satellite systems, new antenna technologies, new modem and VSAT technologies, and new service paradigms, etc., and making it easier for customer to adapt to the new technologies and changes. For example, when O3B launched, Optimal Satcom helped that company fit the capacity and services provided by their revolutionary, new constellation into the exiting ecosystem.

In terms of products, Ahsun said the company is currently in an innovation phase. There are a number of new technologies coming down the pipeline: Their existing flagship ECM product has been undergoing a number of enhancements. Recently, the company has been adapting it new types of highly dynamic services (such as providing the product for the in-flight connectivity industry).

Optimal Satcom has just installed the Payload Resource Manager (PRM) product at their first customer site. PRM allows Optimal Satcom’s software customers to directly configure digital satellites in a service-responsive manner. One of the challenges satellite operators face with bringing software-defined satellites into their fleet is the significantly increased complexity and engineering effort involved in configuring and managing the payload to support missions, making it a challenge for them to use the full capability and flexibility of the satellite in an effective manner

Using PRM, the satellite operator can command the satellite to configure the payload automatically in response to service requests, rapidly analyze different scenarios, and optimize payload settings to optimize performance and capacity utilization. Planning and configuration cycles that typically took weeks now take minutes. PRM also generates the predicted spectrum for on-board spectrum monitoring. When a fault occurs, PRM can process telemetry to recreate and analyze the fault configuration, determine impact on services, and implement recovery scenarios. According to Ahsun, this product makes it far easier for customers to use these flexible, yet complex, satellites and ultimately maximize throughput and efficiency of use.

The firm is working with a large service provider customer to develop a network intelligence product, Neuron™ (currently in beta phase) that helps to increase the efficiency of managed VSAT services. Neuron performs advanced analytic functions on managed networks, and combines it with the capacity modeling prowess of ECM to determine the true capacity utilization of networks, identify congestion and performance bottlenecks, perform bit and cost efficiency calculations, and aid in network design and optimization. The goal of Neuron is to enable the managed services provider to make network design, traffic grooming, and network policy decisions that achieve the highest cost per bit efficiency.

The role of software has really grown in the satellite industry. Optimal Satcom used to be one of a select few companies developing software systems for the SATCOM industry 10 years ago. As the industry grows, and systems and service become increasingly more complex, the role of software, artificial intelligence (AI), and scalable computing models is increasing rapidly.

Ahsun stated that these technological advances in the software industry in turn helps Optimal Satcom to scale the solutions they provide and the systems they are able to manage to help its customers adopt to the rapidly changing and increasing complex SATCOM environment.