The setting for Ribbon Perspectives 2018 was the spectacular L.A. Live, Los Angeles premier entertainment complex. A five day event aimed at bringing together the sharpest minds within the Ribbon partner and customer community saw over 600 guests from over 40 countries arrive to bring their ‘perspectives’ on the communications industry.
Rarely do mergers and acquisitions go quite as smoothly as initially planned, but the agglomeration of GENBAND and Sonus Networks confirmed at the end of last year seems to have bucked that trend. The deal which now sees the two entities untied under the banner of Ribbon Communications creates a communications equipment and software manufacturer with global reach and influence. 2018’s Perspectives event is the first annual conference to take place after confirmation of the merger and provided Ribbon with the opportunity, not only to outline their new combined strategy but also, to gauge the feedback and understand the ‘perspectives’ of their customers and partners. We take a look at the event and bring you the most important Ribbon updates from our ‘perspective’.
Ribbon Communications now become one of the global giants within the communication industry with over 2700 staff located throughout 27 different countries and the amalgamation of the GENBAND and Sonus Networks portfolios now equips them with a wide range of industry tools to service their customers. These tools, combined with Ribbon’s vision to be at the forefront of technological innovation, make them one of the most exciting brands globally. We take a look at some of their main focus areas from this year’s event.
One of the area’s most keenly addressed by Ribbon is network management and optimisation. Focusing on large scale solutions that are utilised by the (SP) service provider, enterprise and public sector communities Ribbon have a host of solutions designed to modernise and maximise their customers efficiency in an ever changing and evolving communications landscape.
(NFV) Network function virtualisation is a key strand of Ribbon’s offering, with solutions such as Softswitches, enabling partners and providers to transform their businesses for the cloud age, dramatically improving their agility within their markets.
Cloud native session border controllers (SBCs) provide an ever increasing range of customers the possibility to enhance efficacy in operations, management, reliability across their networks. All manner of service providers, as well as enterprises are now able to leverage solutions that previously had not been available in anything but the largest and most extreme environments.
As the modernised world continues to migrate to SIP, Ribbon are uniquely placed to offer solutions to enhance customer offerings. Executive Vice President of Global Sales for Ribbon Communications Mike Swade explained.
“We are actually in a really unique spot when it comes to transformation, Ribbon is going to grow in the core as the remainder of industry continues to migrate to SIP. Our solutions offer huge benefits to the enterprise and carrier community”
A vital facet within in any enterprise, service provider or public sector network is obviously security. The looming shadow of security breaches is constantly cast over the communications industry but Ribbon aim to alleviate that for their customers with Ribbon Protect.
One of the main themes throughout this year’s Perspectives event was that of ‘zero trust security architecture’. Not a new concept within network security ‘zero trust’ has not always been easy or even feasible to achieve. Ribbon again are particularly well placed to assist their customers in trying to ensure optimum security.
The conventional security premise was based on the assumption that everything within an organisation’s network can be trusted. Traditionally protecting the perimeter of the network was the main focus. With the latest generation of security risks and the increased sophistication of attacks this assumption is now defunct. Threats that do manage to breach the perimeter and access the network are then able to move freely without being monitored wherever they choose to successfully extract sensitive, valuable business data. Zero trust, founded with the principle of ‘never trust, always verify’ is focused on negating the threat movement inside a network utilising segmentation and perimeter defences to ensure all network traffic is legitimate.
Ribbon Protect offers their customers tools, such as (ML) machine learning and network behavioural analytics, to avoid unified communications and network fraud and enhance system management. Coupled with newly announced partnerships with firewall providers such as Palo Alto and Fortinet Ribbon’s solutions can now achieve zero trust security from the perimeter through to the core of customer networks. Ribbon’s Chief Technology Officer Kevin Riley told us more about their unique position within the industry.
“We are in a great position within the industry to analyse the data and we have built up a level of trust with our history that will reassure partners to work together with us to improve security. It’s a better together story because it’s not conflicting, they protect one aspect while we protect others and together we can offer customers wide ranging network security”
UCaaS & CPaaS
Possibly the most exciting area for Ribbon from a potential growth perspective is within the UCaaS and CPaaS arenas. They appear to be driven by the ever pressing desire to transform their service provider community. With ever increasing competition from cloud native providers, such as Twillio, service providers need to acknowledge the need for change and transform themselves to offer some of the enhanced solutions cloud based platforms can enable. That’s where Kandy comes in.
Built from Ribbon’s communications, presence and security software Kandy is a cloud based, real-time communications software development platform. The solution includes Application Programming Interfaces (APIs), Software Development Kits (SDKs) and pre-built applications (Kandy Wrappers) which can provide a host of business benefits such as visual IVR, live support, video shopping. The realm of possibilities opened with the development platform is endless.
CTO Kevin Riley told us how this solution would only have been possible post-merger.
“What you see is more of solution message from Ribbon. Neither company (GENBAND or Sonus) would have been able to offer our new solutions alone. We have combined the cloud experts from both organisations so we can drive innovation”
There was genuine excitement during the event around the Kandy proposition but there was also a firm message from Ribbon to their SP community, embrace solutions such as this or risk losing customers. Former President and CEO of GENBAND, David Walsh, is the Founder of the Kandy Communications Cloud Solutions for Ribbon Communications. David realises that there is a huge amount of transformation required by SPs and partners to leverage the benefits and ensure the success of Kandy, and he isn’t going to waste time with those that aren’t fully engaged.
“The key for us is finding the right partners who are really committed. We have to have to find the right ones to work with. It starts with being really committed. I’d rather have three or four partners that are really committed rather than 100 that aren’t as dedicated”
The three main focus areas detailed above provided the future of Ribbon’s proposition from our perspective, but made up only a small proportion of the solutions on show. To Ribbon’s credit their ‘solution showcase’ at the event demonstrated live some of the genuine use cases enabled by the solutions as well as some of their use of emerging technologies like AI, ML, and IoT.
Often in events such as these there is a lot of posturing without much tangible evidence or real world examples but that certainly wasn’t the case at Ribbon Perspectives 2018. Next year’s Perspectives is due to take place in Washington D.C and it will be fascinating to see the progression in propositions such as Ribbon Protect and Kandy in 2019.