One Platform, One Solution
• Serving 80% of top 100 operators world wide
• In 6 years, revenues wrose from 5m$ to 700m$
• Leading the IP & SWITCHES transforming
Telecom Review recently had the opportunity to discuss the explosive grow of Genband with it’s CEO Charlie Vogt.
TR: GENBAND’s growth strategy has been generating a lot of buzz and attention. What is driving the excitement?
Our strategy and approach have thrived despite a very difficult macroeconomic environment. In addition to being able to grow in a down market, we have driven industry consolidation by identifying and acquiring affordable, under-the-radar assets that became significantly more attractive when integrated into GENBAND. As a result, we have grown from $5 million in revenues in 2004 to $700 million plus in 2010. Today we employ 2,200 people globally that serve 80 of the world’s top 100 operators. We have a vast global service organization with over 50 operational locations supporting customers in over 80 countries. According to leading industry analysts, today we are the number one infrastructure supplier in the global service provider IP voice market, which includes softswitches, media gateways, session border controllers, media servers and application servers. We have earned this position by building a thriving entrepreneurial, experienced and innovative employee base that is laser focused on the IP switching and networking market.
TR: You’re approaching one year since the Nortel acquisition, your biggest to date. How has the company done with integration?
Following the acquisition, we quickly created a completely new corporate structure, integrated nearly 2,000 new employees, rationalized dozens of product solutions and established legal entities in over 50 new countries. In January, we reached a major milestone when we went live with the Oracle R12 platform, completing the vast majority of the integration of Nortel CVAS in less than eight months – an accomplishment that exceeded even the most ambitious estimations.
TR: How has the Nortel acquisition changed GENBAND’s strategic direction?
None of our acquisitions, including Nortel, have changed our strategy; rather they were driven by our strategy. GENBAND’s strategic foundation is built on facilitating operator evolution through Internet Protocol (IP). Supporting our foundation are three strategic pillars network transformation, network convergence and network optimization. GENBAND’s comprehensive network transformation portfolio uniquely enables operators to navigate all stages of the IP evolution process, maximizing existing investments in legacy systems while unleashing the benefits of IP innovation. By enabling network convergence, which includes the integration of IP-based services, interfaces and features between fixed and mobile domains, GENBAND drives operational efficiency, cost reduction and expanded service offerings. Lastly, we are focused on enhancing the scalability, reliability and performance of IP infrastructure through network optimization.Together with our vast global professional services, we are significantly fueling our core competencies of transforming, converging and optimizing networks.
TR: How does your newly launched GENiUS platform fit with your roadmap?
The GENBAND GENiUS platform is revolutionizing service provider networks. When you think about how technology has been deployed over the years, there have been separate platforms, separate operating systems and separate management systems for the key functions of call control, applications, session border control, and traffic and policy management. GENBAND now enables all of those functions on one common platform. GENiUS is the first of its kind to bring them all together in a unified, IP-based, software centric manner. IP applications are easily added to the GENiUS platform via simple software upgrades to the common ATCA hardware and application blades, significantly simplifying network architecture and reducing network costs. GENiUS also drastically simplifies network operations by providing a simplified and common GENView management system across all the applications on the platform versus the myriad of management systems and interfaces from multiple platforms prevalent in networks today. The advanced GENWare middleware allows the service providers to seamlessly ride Moore’s law to address the ever-increasing needs for capacity and bandwidth in the network as well as run the GENiUS software applications on different ATCA form factors for optimal deployment flexibility and with high reliability. Bottom line, GENiUS is reducing the total cost of ownership for service provider networks.
TR: In addition to the software centric GENiUS approach, you’ve been making some noise with your applications initiatives. How is that changing your portfolio mix?
The Applications portfolio is one of our most strategic product lines as it is extremely complementary to everything we do. The A2 application server, together with the rest of the portfolio, provides carriers with solutions that are unique in the market and can be specifically tailored to their needs. Operators are increasingly seeing applications as not only a means to bring in new revenues, but also as a driver to invest in future infrastructure changes such as LTE, RCS and IMS. Our application server works today in any network wireless, wireline or cable and can be a key enabler for service providers to better compete outside their usual domain. As an example, our recently announced Mobile Office solution provides fixed-line functionality to mobile users, empowering mobile service providers to more directly and seamlessly service the enterprise market. We also recently opened up our application platform to the developer community to create the same thriving environment as we are seeing in other apps communities.
TR: Part of the attention on GENBAND has been your focus and qualifications for migrating and transforming networks through IP. Why is the company so well positioned?
First, it’s our focus. GENBAND has 2,200 employees around the world that wake up every day focused on network transformation. The breadth and depth of our product portfolio and service capabilities is very competitive. With 40 million lines transformed across 14 vendor switch types, we have worldclass network transformation resources, tools and practices. Our expertise is built on years of real world experience, having completed nearly 20,000 IP projects, with well over 3,000 planned for completion in 2011. With over 240 million installed IP ports globally, we enjoy the largest installed next generation networking base in the industry.
TR: How would you categorize the state of the industry in terms of its migration to IP and next generation networking?
While progress has been made to convert some core voice networks to IP, today’s local switching infrastructure is a different matter. Much of it originated in the 1970’s and was deployed in large numbers by global Operators in the 1980’s. Roughly 100,000 of these TDM switches are still in operation today around the world. Analysts estimate that about 1 billion fixed lines globally utilize these aging local switches. Operators continue to depend on TDM switches for high margin voice service offerings, but the 25-plus year old infrastructure is beyond its designed lifetime. If theses switches had odometers like automobiles, they would be well past 300,000 miles or 500,000 kilometers. The switches also have limited support available from vendors, along with declining human resources that know how to operate them. This means increasing risk for everyone who relies on them the Operators, and their customers. Additionally, TDM is technically obsolete and cannot compete with the new, rich communications services that IP provides. As costs for running these old networks and the inherent risks in this “old iron” continue to mount, the need for IP evolution and transformation is increasingly necessary. GENBAND’s unique approach to transformation limits the amount of new capital investment, avoids a complete replacement of access equipment, and facilitates back office integration. At the same time, we IPenable every single line, giving everyone rich IP functionality and enabling true convergence of voice and multimedia services.
TR: GENBAND today has a major service and support division. How does that fit into your footprint?
Network transformations are complex, with sophisticated systems, equipment and interdependencies. Our Global Service and Support Organization and partners have highly skilled NGN, IP Voice, and IMS specialists with technical depth, network breadth and unique transformation tools to help customers deploy networks quickly and efficiently. As I mentioned, we complete thousands of complex network projects each year and have performed nearly 20,000 IP projects for Operators across the globe. This experience with many different Operators, systems and platforms allows us to expand and grow as Operators increasingly seek assistance in transforming their networks. We also help Operators maintain and support their IP-based and legacy networks. Beyond our transformation and integration services, we provide 24x7x365 maintenance and optimization services for Operators. These services help Operators with ongoing management of their current network investments. They also allow us to gain significant insight that helps us develop solutions to satisfy their evolving network requirements.
TR: What are you most excited about in 2011 and what do you see as GENBAND’s biggest opportunity?
The single biggest opportunity we have over the next decade is network transformation. It is a huge market. With more and more broadband enabled at the access level, next generation IP switching at the core is increasingly justifiable. Operators have also fully leveraged their capital investments in TDM switching with much of the infrastructure approaching 30 years. Yet transformation takes time. By 2018, mobile operators will still be roughly 90 percent TDM. When you have individual operators with as many as 800 to 2000 aging switches and they can realistically replace at most 10 to 12 switches a year, the transformation process continues for years. And while we transition these networks, new technology is pioneered every 3 to five years, so the process never ends.