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6 Channel Ops: Adtran's New Channel Chief, Verizon Speed Trials NG-PON2

Plus: Data classification is critical for security.

Lorna Garey

August 14, 2015

8 Min Read
6 Channel Ops: Adtran's New Channel Chief, Verizon Speed Trials NG-PON2

Lorna GareyAt this week’s Adtran 2015 Broadband & Business and Connect conference, I sat down with Meggin Sawyer, the company’s new VP of business solutions and cloud services, who is also tasked with overseeing channel strategy.

Adtran has traditionally had two separate divisions, enterprise and carrier, with the latter selling large-scale infrastructure gear and the former selling through both carrier customers and a range of channel partners. Sawyer says the company plans to pull down that wall.

“They’re all calling on the same end users,” Sawyer said. “So it’s important for us to unify the experience.” The company does not sell direct to end customers, said Sawyer, and that won’t change. But as cloud blurs the lines among solutions providers, a unified channel program makes sense.

About two months into the job, Sawyer is filling in the details around that vision by visiting with partners and listening to what ails their customers, and by extension, their bottom lines. She’s seen two main pain points: diminishing resources, both budget and headcount, and the drag exerted by legacy IT.

One prescription is to advise customer CIOs to stop fighting the “shadow IT” that is diverting budget authority to lines of business and instead offer expertise to vet new purchases, often cloud services. Sawyer also advises partners to focus less on the products themselves and more on helping solve customers’ business problems, which will ultimately increase IT’s standing, and thus sales, margins and revenue. Among her priorities are developing marketing materials and tools to help partners demonstrate the ROI of retiring legacy gear and further increasing sales beyond the company’s traditional teleco market base.

While Sawyer admits that the company has work to do in terms of streamlining incentive programs, her value pitch is flexibility. Products like the company’s ProCloud managed Wi-Fi can be a simple resell, with Adtran providing site surveys, installation and ongoing management, or an MSP can white-label the service and personalize it to its customers’ needs. Partners can be as hands on as they want. For now, she’s looking to hear what partners think Adtran can do to help them grow their businesses. The aim is a revamped program by year’s end.

Chain Of Tools

This week Adtran also introduced a virtual network function (VNF) suite to enable telecom and cable provider customers to convert CPE services to bundles of virtualized, software-based functions without compromising performance. Converting an on-site service to NFV can boost efficiency, security, scalability and performance while lowering costs, minimizing support headaches and realizing a faster time-to-revenue. In this offering, Adtran is virtualizing select CPE functions, including routers, firewalls, enterprise session border controllers and voice quality monitoring, and giving providers the option of bundling them into a single VNF. That lessens vendor overhead and associated server hardware related expenses, the company says. Those who prefer to pick and choose may also create VNF service chains from multiple software vendors.

Need Speed?

Verizon announced this week a successful test of a new next-generation passive optical network, or NG-PON2, that could provide businesses and consumers with upload and download Internet speeds of up to 10 gigabits per second — or more. The new PON technology, a hot topic at the Adtran summit, was tested in a link from Verizon’s central office in Framingham, Mass., to a FiOS customer’s home three miles away, as well as to a nearby business location. NG-PON2 technology could eventually deliver to 40 to 80 Gbps speeds, said Lee Hicks, vice president of network technology for Verizon, in a statement. Vincent O’Byrne, Ph.D., director of access technology for Verizon, explains that a new optical line terminal installed in the Verizon central office generated four wavelengths, or colors of light, each capable of operating at 10G/2.5G. Later versions are expected to support the same download and upload speeds of 10G/10G per color. The technology also allows for immediate failover to another wavelength, increasing reliability.

Alas, the service is a few years out. Verizon will issue a request for proposals later this year for the purchase of hardware and software for the new NG-PON2 platform.

Name That Data

Data classification is an important but often ignored part of a security strategy, and the problem is only getting worse as unstructured data piles up. In response, DataGravity announced this week its Discovery Series V2, which helps companies manage security at the point of storage by providing visibility into data as it’s created.

Discovery Series V2 enhancements let companies spot sensitive information, such as employee and customer personal data, corporate financial records and intellectual property, and apply proper controls. New features include content and tag alerting to notify organizations on when and where sensitive information is stored and how it’s being handled, enabling administrators to quickly spot access anomalies and governance policy violations; role-based access; and custom and predefined tagging, which lets administrators create company- and domain-specific tags based on industry-specific markers of sensitive information. Think a patient number or credit data.

“The new features in the DataGravity Discovery Series V2 are in direct response to pervasive issues businesses across industries are facing every day, including IP theft, data kidnapping and insider threats,” Rich Shea, vice president of sales at DataGravity, told Channel Partners. “These very real concerns have made it more important than ever for sensitive data to be locked away safely, while maintaining compliance with industry regulations. Our channel partners can now offer midmarket organizations an enhanced all-in-one solution that manages their data security and activity at a price point they can afford, even with limited budgets and staff.”

The DataGravity Discovery Series V2 is available immediately in three models, DG1100, DG2200 and DG2400, with all-inclusive pricing and included future firmware upgrades and features while under an active support contract. The base DG1100 includes 18 TB of raw capacity in a VM-aware, flash-optimized platform accessible across 10GbE and 1GbE networks using SMB, NFS, and iSCSI and starts at $45,000.

Cloud Containers

Red Hat this week announced version 6.1 of its Satellite systems management suite. Additions include enhanced security, discovery and container-management capabilities across Red Hat physical, virtual and cloud environments. Containers are hot, but security and manageability are far from fully baked. With 6.1, Red Hat extends Satellite’s versioning, authentication and integration support to Docker via a scalable, on-premises registry with role-based access controls, auditing and a robust API. It also adds features to quickly identify and address hosts affected by a security vulnerability like Shellshock, Heartbleed or GHOST, minimizing downtime and the risk of sensitive data being exposed.

In addition, OpenSCAP, a standardized approach to maintaining enterprise system security, is now available in tech preview. OpenSCAP automatically verifies the presence of patches, checks system security configuration settings and examines systems for signs of compromise at set intervals. The update is available now to all Red Hat Satellite customers with valid subscriptions.

Mix ‘N’ Match Clouds

HotLink Corp. announced this week its HotLink Cloud Management Express, which extends VMware vCenter and compatible tools, including orchestration, self-service portals, PowerCLI scripts and automation, across various VMs so companies can unify management of hybrid clouds. The product provides public cloud support for Microsoft Azure, vCloud Air, OpenStack and Amazon EC2, and on-premises support for OpenStack, Microsoft Hyper-V, Citrix XenServer and Red Hat KVM. The ability to manage a mixed bag of VMs could help stave off vendor lock-in, as well as reduce complexity.

“By utilizing best-of-breed technology from Cisco and HotLink, customers realize maximum business value from private and public clouds without adding integration or management complexity,” said Kenneth Owens, CTO of cloud infrastructure services for Cisco Systems, in a statement. “We are partnering with HotLink so our mutual Intercloud customers can benefit from a streamlined hybrid IT solution in a hybrid cloud environment.”

“Most enterprise road maps are now hybrid, with more than 65 percent committing to hybrid cloud before 2016, according to IDC; this creates a major opportunity for the channel,” Lynn LeBlanc, CEO of HotLink, told Channel Partners. “HotLink Cloud Management Express enables partners to build a brand as forward-looking cloud advisors, consultants and solution providers, a set of skills virtually every customer needs these days.” HotLink Cloud Management Express is available immediately with pricing at $175 per workload per year for 150 workloads.

The Kiosks Have Eyes

Attention retail specialists: Cloud-based digital kiosk and signage provider Moki, which has deals with Google, Intel, Samsung and others, announced this week the release of MokiTouch 2, which updates the company’s MokiTouch kiosk software application to include Moki Insights, an analytics feature for tracking customer interactions. Essentially the kiosk uses a front-facing camera with gesture detection to measure device use and deliver in-store customer engagement analytics and insights in real time. Moki Insights offers a number of advanced metrics including impressions (how many people notice a given customer-facing device), views (how long they linger in front of the device), digital interactions (how many people interact with a device) and average session durations. Creepy? Maybe a little, but in-store marketing kiosks take up valuable real estate, and it’s nice to get some metrics.

Scott Buckley, director of marketing at RAB, a New Jersey-based lighting manufacturer, said in a statement that MokiTouch has helped grow sales by as much as 40 percent at many locations.

“In the past, analysis of in-store initiatives has been difficult because of the logistics of compiling data across stores and devices functioning on separate networks with different managers,” said Buckley. “MokiTouch has enabled our teams to deploy, monitor and manage all of our kiosks in the field.”

MokiTouch 2 is free and available on iTunes and Google Play, and the company is building a partner network.

Follow editor in chief @LornaGarey on Twitter.

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