ChannelDrive.in Special Interview | Perspectives18
Combining the strengths coming from GENBAND and Sonus – Ribbon Communications is putting a lot of innovation together and presenting unique value proposition for its channel ecosystem.
Kevin Riley, CTO and EVP of Advanced R&D, Ribbon Communications interacts with Zia Askari from ChannelDrive.in about the company’s innovation roadmap and how it is looking at 5G as a big opportunity.
What are the key priorities for Ribbon after the merger of Sonus and GENBAND?
In the past, GENBAND was moving along the path of Application transformation and Sonus was focused on the edge transport and we did that with the help of SBCs and policy. So I think both the companies are on complimentary paths. GENBAND driving the application and Sonus driving the transport and this proposition fits very nicely now as an end to end solution for our customers.
Not only can we offer the App, we can now deliver it through the network. So we have moved from a product mentality to a solutions strategy. Now we can shift the conversation to solutions and value creation.
And how do things change – with regards to your relationships with SIs and the channel community? What is their feedback?
The feedback has been very positive. We live in a world where there is a lot of consolidation happening in the industry. And in such a scenario, both companies coming together as Ribbon – benefit from greater scale. So, our sales force is more than 2 times bigger than it was, we have a larger R&D organization, we have a larger support organization.
So when it comes to our customers, our partner ecosystem – they like our scale now. They strongly feel that we are scaling with the industry, we are scaling with them now. There has been no chance of any conflict as we have moved in complimentary direction.
Moving forward – what are some of the innovations that we can look forward to from Ribbon?
We are going to focus a lot on the analytics side. I believe that we have a lot of valuable data moving through our products and our job is to help our customers monetize on that data. So, one of our key area for innovation in analytics. We have started with the ‘Ribbon Protect’ product offering and we are going to build on that. We will be investing heavily on the analytics side.
We start with building analytics for network operations, make sure the service is up and running and understand the health of the network.
Use analytics to enable much more sophisticated and advanced security protection. And then we move into the domain of subscriber data monetization – answer simple questions like what is your subscriber doing? what service are they consuming? what offers are working more than others? How do you personalize your end customer experience – based on their behavioral pattern. We are going to move around this segment and keep on innovating.
The other main investment area for us is around that enterprise edge. We see rapid transformation there. Today, we are at this intersection of software SD-WAN and the enterprise wanting to consume everything as a service – is completely changing the model. So as a result, everything is moving to the cloud. And we want to deliver that stack for unified communications for an enterprise.
Today there are a lot of operators trying to target the enterprise market in a big way. How is Ribbon positioning towards enabling this opportunity for operators?
This is the trend that we want to help enable in a big way. We want to provide components and applications that allow service providers to do that. With our SBCs, with our policy engine and with our Kandy Platform, we enable service providers to generate those offers to their end customers. So, we are an enabler for them. We don’t want to go to an enterprise directly, we want service providers and ISVs to leverage their scale and deliver future-ready solutions for the enterprise.
How do you look at the upcoming trends in the telecom space, especially the movement to embrace 5G networks?
The slicing capabilities being introduced with 5G is very interesting. It’s not just the faster RAN anymore, now it’s a highly customizable RAN. It can be customized per customer, per application, so when you have that kind of flexibility and you want to take advantage of that kind of flexibility, it becomes incredibly important to be able to closely monitor and have deep level of insights on how those applications are running. So, providing network analytics and network operations view – how it is running on tuned 5G network becomes very important, you absolutely have to do that.
5G is a programmable network now. You can dynamically configure that RAN. UC is a very elastic application in terms of its wants and needs and how it runs on a network, depending on how many people are using it, what services are being invoked and as UC kind of expands and contracts in terms of usage patterns on the network – that data needs to feed into the RAN so that, the particular application be given appropriate bandwidth, proper prioritization all the way down to the end user so that the application runs flawlessly and that’s one of the things that we will provide with our analytical engine which is kind of taking the UC requirements and usage patterns and translating that into policy on the 5G side along with that provide the network view and troubleshooting and SLA monitoring for that service as it is run.
So, as a result of the above scenario – the RAN opening up and becoming programmable – now I can take my UC knowledge and program that policy into RAN. This is a very exciting opportunity now.
What are some of the areas on which your R&D teams are working today?
We are focused around three specific spheres of R&D initiatives – firstly we have a focus towards gateways and soft-switches. Secondly we are focused around session border control (SBC) and routing policy and then thirdly we are focusing around the area of Kandy and the Application server space. These are the three big spheres where we are putting our R&D efforts. We have our R&D effort based in US, Canada, UK and India.
The author traveled to Los Angeles to attend Perspectives18 on invitation from Ribbon Communications