With the growing interest in IP-based communications solutions, businesses and service providers alike are investing in new, next-generation equipment that allows them to take advantage of the latest technologies. The competition is fierce, and service providers and enterprises alike are looking to maintain their competitive edge by deploying the latest converged communications technologies — which means an equally competitive environment for technology vendors.
ADTRAN provides networking and communications solutions and equipment for both carriers and businesses, and, as such, has a close eye on the competitive landscape. Rich recently had the chance to speak with ADTRAN CEO Thomas Stanton, who explained some of today’s market trends and how ADTRAN is excelling with its approach to assisting the transition to IP-based communications.
RT: What is your vision for ADTRAN and how is the company positioned to address the need for next-generation services?
TS: ADTRAN has been very successful in North America. As we move forward, our focus will remain targeted in the access arena, as we see that as the area with the greatest potential for growth. In addition, ADTRAN has begun the move from being a North American access equipment provider to becoming a global access company addressing the access needs of carriers and SMBs worldwide. I also see ADTRAN becoming the preferred choice for networking infrastructure for SMBs both in North America and abroad.
We will accomplish these milestones while maintaining the same core values, such as exceptional customer service, engineering innovation, and quality beyond expectation that have made ADTRAN the success it is today.
RT: ADTRAN has a strong history of success in the carrier market. Does this help you when approaching the SMB or distributed enterprise market?
TS: Although ADTRAN has enjoyed great success in the carrier market, many people are unaware that ADTRAN has a long history of success in the enterprise space as well. Our success began back in the 90s with the TSU family of CSU/DSUs. Next, we moved to ISDN termination equipment and quickly gained market share. We then moved to Integrated Access Devices, where we remain the market leader and hold the lion’s share of the market. It is this foundation of success that we are building upon with today’s new technologies. We are already noting early success as we continue to grow in the SMB access router market. Our strong position in the carrier market also provides another avenue through which our SMB customers can purchase ADTRAN equipment.
Our success can be attributed to many things, one of which is our strong base of more than 1,500 reseller partners. These partners have the desire to succeed and use ADTRAN as a competitive advantage to do so.
RT: What are some of the technology areas on which ADTRAN is focusing and why are these important to the future of the company?
TS: Two of our main technology focal points are converged Ethernet and Technology Integration. Ethernet is the medium of choice for both carrier and enterprise customers. ADTRAN has been a leader in this movement with the development of a series of products to address the need for converged Ethernet. Products, such as the Total Access 5000 family of Multiservice Access and Aggregation Platforms offer a pure Ethernet core, allowing carriers to maximize their investments in existing services as well as prepare to offer future next-generation services with no degradation, whatever they may be.
Integration has never been more important than it is today, especially for the SMB or distributed enterprise customer. Technology Integration, the act of combining multiple functions into a single platform, is benefiting today’s small business customers by simplifying networks and making new applications and services affordable to even the smallest of businesses.
ADTRAN set the standard for TI with our introduction of the industry’s first integrated switch router. Since that time, we have continued to add more functionality and versatility to all of our platforms. Now, services such as IP PBX and wireless access are offered to customers of any size. Many of these devices were specifically designed for the SMB and address the needs of voice and data networking in a single, easy-to-manage, and cost-effective platform.
RT: What do you see for the future of the IP Telephony industry and how will this affect SMBs and distributed enterprises?
TS: Today, SMBs have access to technology and applications that previously were only offered to large enterprises. Convergence, cost reductions, and the increase in carrier service offerings are making more technologies available that are simplified to the level where SMBs can not only afford them, but understand them and intelligently manage them. Because of these advancements, SMBs have the ability to manage and run their businesses, on a real-time basis, better now than ever before.
RT: ADTRAN is up against some large competitors, what’s been driving your growing market share against these players?
TS:There are many reasons ADTRAN has succeeded against formidable competitors. First and foremost are our employees. We have a strong base of the best and brightest talent available today. Our groups turn concept into reality and continually deliver products with better performance and lower cost than our competition. This has been the key to our success in the past, and that philosophy is stronger today than ever. Our engineers are complemented by hundreds of highly qualified, dedicated support personnel that assist in every aspect of product development and lifecycle.
Second, only to our employees, are our partners. Our Value Added Resellers have chosen to partner with ADTRAN based on the quality products we offer, the value the customer receives, and service beyond expectation both before and after the sale. They know that when they recommend an ADTRAN product, it will exceed the customer’s expectation every time.
Third would be our approach to business. ADTRAN has the flexibility and sense of urgency as strong as the best start-ups, but with the size and capital resources of larger, more established players. This gives us a marked advantage in today’s competitive landscape.
RT: Convergence and integration appear to be at the root of your latest enterprise product announcements. Why is this area so important and why is ADTRAN so strong in delivering these products?
TS: We are working to deliver the best technology and make it available to the smallest of businesses. This will help them compete where size and scale matter less. We are working to bring technologies such as VoIP and wireless access to these businesses in an easy-to-use and cost-effective manner.
The Internet revolution has revolutionized business as we know it. Less than 10 years ago, you had to have brick and mortar to be a business. Today, if you have a computer and access to the Internet and the right technology you can have a thriving business reaching customers around the globe.
RT: SMBs are transitioning from TDM to Ethernet services. How is your company assisting that transition?
TS: ADTRAN is well prepared for the transition to Ethernet. We are assisting in this transition from both the carrier and SMB perspective. From the carrier’s perspective, we are offering the Total Access 5000 suite of products to allow carriers to transition from TDM to Ethernet-based services in a cost-effective manner and without a complete overhaul of their network. The products are complemented by IP DSLAMS, next-generation optical multiplexers, and a host of other products that allow carriers to maximize their network infrastructures to provide Ethernet services.
On the SMB front, Ethernet is at the forefront of our product designs. From Ethernet switches and IP access routers to IP PBXs and Multiservice Access Gateways, our NetVanta product family offers SMBs a wide array of Ethernet-based solutions to meet their voice and data networking needs.
RT: How is the acceptance of VoIP and other IP technologies changing your product portfolio?
TS: The acceptance of VoIP and other IP-based technologies has touched every product line we offer from our wireless backhaul solutions to our largest Carrier-class multi-service access products. The transition to Ethernet opens a new world of possibilities for higher bandwidth services for all classes of customers.
RT: Is convergence a positive or negative for smaller businesses?
TS: There is no doubt that convergence is positive for small business. The convergence of technology is resulting in devices that offer a wealth of functionality in a single platform at a lower price. This is allowing small businesses to take advantage of increased functionality in more cost-effective, manageable platforms that are helping them run their businesses better and more cost effectively than ever before.
RT: What will be the next major emphasis for ADTRAN?
TS: First, we want ADTRAN to be the preferred Ethernet Services delivery company for carriers. We will realize that potential by delivering the best product possible, with the highest value and with performance beyond the customer’s expectation. Today, ADTRAN holds the number two market share position for routers in North America. We want to continue to implement product development and strategy to become the preferred provider for SMB networking solutions. We will do this by utilizing our carrier and channel partners to create a broader awareness of the technological advantages we bring to market.
Secondly, we must strengthen our emphasis on markets outside North America.
We realize that our greatest opportunity for continued long-term growth will come from markets outside of North America. Therefore, we are developing the products and the strategy to capitalize on these opportunities and build ADTRAN’s presence worldwide.
RT: What is ADTRAN’s relationship with Digium/Asterisk. Your company seemed to have a lot of vision to back Mark Spencer so early on.
TS: ADTRAN has held both personal and financial stakes in Digium since its founding. Mark Spencer is a bright and talented individual with a clear focus on what he wants to accomplish. The Open Source software market is an intriguing market with a great deal of potential. Our relationship with Digium allows us an avenue to understand the underlying trends that drive that market and how they will impact the enterprise as a whole.
Rich Tehrani is President and Editor in Chief at TMC.
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