Re-Discovering Romance with Access

By Nancy Ridge

Like many channel partners, I’ve had many years of success selling access and network services. We became experts and our portfolios bulged with service providers across the globe. I loved the business and it loved me. As the access landscape began changing with cable co’s making their mark and consolidation redefining who’s who as well as what fiber and access paths they controlled, we saw a drop in margins. Simultaneously, as the big cloud players made the scene we began to see the shift to public cloud and software defined networks. Phrases like “MPLS is dead” bred fear and doubt within a channel that relied on these core network services for profitable revenue. Personally, I have been eagerly learning about all the new technologies that have emerged to address the business problems today’s small businesses and enterprises face. It has been both maddeningly fast paced and slow to take hold. Suddenly with all the shiny new technologies I had to offer, access looked like the boring, basic black slacks in my closet. I need them, they’re a staple in my wardrobe but I’d rather focus on the sexy stuff. Today, I’m rediscovering romance with access. Those same big public cloud players, AWS, Microsoft, and Google to name a few, have been the launch pads for innovation and they now need to get to the Edge of the network. Verticals such as retail, healthcare, finance, and manufacturing need all the hot technologies – AI, security, blockchain – to stay competitive. Innovation has been “trapped” in the data center, however IDC now predicts 65% of operations will be at the Edge by 2022. All the major cloud players have announced products that will run at the Edge. And they all need access. All kinds of access! Everything from last mile, to virtual circuits, to hybrid and multi-cloud connectivity, to all the network solutions like SD-WAN, IP/VPN and yes; MPLS. Is it complex? Yes. Is it foundational to success, regardless of what your critical applications are? Yes. Are cost and performance more important than ever? Yes. And I’m loving it. Because enabling success for my partners and my customers is exciting. Re-kindling that romance allows me to contribute the foundation necessary for all the great innovation we get to witness take hold and take off. Those black slacks look pretty sexy after all.

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