Comms Business talks to David Wickham, CEO of Vtesse to find out what the networking company’s key growth areas were during the past year and what are their growth expectations for the coming 12 months?
David Wickham (DW): Vtesse has always been a channel-focused company but in the past our emphasis was very much on optical solutions for enterprise customers via the kind of high-end system integrators that were very active in that area. Whilst that’s still good business for us, in recent years we’ve also been adding new resellers and integrators that are more active in the midsize sector. This is where there’s been more interest in our MPLS-based Internet and IPVPN offerings and that’s an important area for growth over the next 12 months.
In addition we have also made significant investment in our Tellabs ROADM network which, as we speak, connects over 60 UK datacentres and allows us to provision high capacity optical links in very short timescales – the most recent connection taking less than 5 days.
CBM: What are the three main market trends and emerging markets that are influencing your go-to-market strategy this year?
DW: The increasing interconnectedness of all things is a significant trend for us. The fact that businesses need to be connected to a variety of offices, datacentres and now even cloud computing infrastructures, in a variety of different ways, is the reason why customers are now asking a lot more of networking providers. In addition the means by which datacentres are interconnected and provisioning of capacity can be enabled rapidly and flexibly becomes a key issue in the choice of Datacentre partner. The rapid provisioning capability of the ROADM network, providing up to 100Gbs capacity and the option of increasing and reducing capacity via our OpticalFlex product provides a real point of differentiation for our Datacentre partners. Security is another big trend though, whilst our ROADM network is accredited to CAS(T) IL2 standards we recognise the critical importance of protecting against attacks over open networks. Both the frequency of attacks and variety of attack types is proliferating at the same time that businesses need to be more open and interconnected than ever before makes the former challenge much more interesting: If it were just a case of connecting to everything, you can do that over the Internet, but the need to connect securely means that the Internet is not always the best option. Service providers like Vtesse need to provide an array of options as the one-size-fits-all approach will no longer work. Finally, the reason I think we’re seeing more growth from the Midsize sector is because these companies have a greater appetite for outsourcing, which is the third key trend. Not only do midsize companies want more management service wrap from service providers, but they also have more complex security challenges through the fact that they connect to a number of third-parties, sometimes even for core, business-critical functions. These three trends all feed off each other, which means that service providers need to adequately address all three in order to effectively capitalise on the growth opportunity they present.
CBM: How do these market drivers translate into your near/mid-term channel strategy?
DW: We’ve already been bringing new channel partners on board that are more focused on the midsize sector, and there’s definitely an appetite for more but it has to be the ideal fit. In other words, to use the old cliché we’re looking for “quality rather than quantity”. The channel partners that work with us tend to be the ones that consciously understand the benefit to their own business of working with a smaller, more agile operator and we’d rather focus more time and effort on those partners than try and talk to everyone and be all things to all people. We do very little direct business so we tend to view our channel partners as our customers, not just a route to market and in turn they tend to view us as their best-kept secret and something that gives them an advantage in the marketplace, rather than just another supplier.
CBM: What strategic channel moves will you be making in the coming year in terms of attacking existing markets with new products/services and addressing new markets with new products/services?
DW: We’re really trying to transform the way that connectivity works for our customers and channel partners. Firstly we are focused on offering ubiquitous connectivity. From point-point optical all the way down to DSL and wireless, we aim to offer any type of physical connection a business might need. The second key objective is to offer security as a built-in rather than a bolt-on feature, so we are focused on developing a full range of ‘in-the-cloud’ security functions that can be sold with all of our networking products. We’re also focused on developing our level of automation and online interaction, with new online tools for partners to help speed up the sales and delivery process, always seeking to make ourselves as easy to do business with as is humanly possible.