ADTRAN's carrier channel helps boost its enterprise solution profile

Huntsville, Ala.--ADTRAN may be well known in the carrier market as a supplier to all of the U.S.-based Tier 1 and Tier 2 service providers, but it's been seen as a relative newcomer in the enterprise market. And while it would seem that carrier and enterprise are two separate domains, ADTRAN is leveraging its Tier 1/2 carrier customer base as a channel to sell its enterprise solutions.

Rick Schansman, Sr. VP and general manager, ADTRAN, said during the morning session of the "Addressing the Changing Telecom Landscape" panel at this year's ADTRAN CONNECT event that this approach is paying off thus far.

"We are very well known in the service provider space, and we have been able to extend that into the enterprise products," he said. "Because we are more well known in the service provider space, they are taking us into major enterprise customers."   

ADTRAN NetVantaSolutions, not just products
As the carrier community sells their respective service sets to their enterprise and SMB customer base, they continue to add ADTRAN internetworking solutions into their service bundles.

Service providers selling Ethernet, for example, are bundling in an IP-based NetVanta business gateway as part of their service packages.

In this case, ADTRAN would sell the service provider their TA-5000 platform that would be placed in the CO (central office) or network edge to aggregate Ethernet services. The service provider could then bundle in a NetVanta router into the package to carry that service in the enterprise.  

Stanton said this end-to-end selling strategy, where they sell the service provider both the carrier-grade network equipment and the enterprise endpoint, helps to ensure reliability and capabilities of Ethernet. It has been a big driver for ADTRAN.

ADTRAN TA 5000 MSAP"When someone just asked about end-to-end capability and what are we doing to increase reliability and capabilities of Ethernet in an end-to-end system," he said, "that has been a big driver for us over the past 24 months where we have been selling the TA-5000 CO system, but people are also adopting the NetVanta products on the tail end of that because of the QoS functions you get with the ability to ability to look in and monitor the circuit and guarantee SLAs."

Stanton added that "the majority of carriers that adopt the TA-5000 platform for Ethernet over Copper or Ethernet over Fiber also adopt our enterprise products too."

Along with Ethernet, ADTRAN's enterprise group is seeing carrier customers leverage the gateway products to deliver various converged access services.  

Schansman said that enterprise product growth is being driven by two trends: converged access and business solutions. Out of these two trends, ADTRAN's enterprise group has migrated from a "just products" approach to a "selling solutions" approach with unified communications (UC) being a major anchor point.

"We talked about solutions last year and I pushed hard to have everyone selling solutions rather than selling products," Schansman said. "The first step in that process was to call everything a solution (routing and switching), but UC has been that rally point to truly offer a solution to the business customer or to the service providers selling those systems to the business customer."

Of course, the challenge for ADTRAN is that its strong legacy of CSU/DSU products and VARs have not transitioned to selling its IP and Ethernet-based products.

While ADTRAN continued to build a VAR base that could sell its next-gen products, many enterprises and businesses knew ADTRAN as a CSU/DSU vendor.

"We had a big name recognition problem in that if enterprise customers knew us, they knew us as a TSU vendor, but not as a routing manufacturer," Stanton said. "Around four years ago, we made fundamental decision to grow the carrier side of our enterprise distribution channel. We knew if we grew the carrier side, those carrier customers that do know us would go out there and put those products in the enterprise space."

Tapping into cable
Traditional Tier 1-2 telco customers, while the bread and butter of ADTRAN's business, aren't the only ones considering ADTRAN's solutions.

Cable operators, which are trying to break into larger business accounts, are also turning towards ADTRAN's carrier and enterprise business offerings.

What's driving cable MSOs to consider platforms from traditional telecom-centric vendors like ADTRAN is that they want to deliver services that have similar or better quality than their ILEC competitors. After initially gaining traction with SMBs selling their traditional DOCSIS-based services, MSOs like Charter, Cox and Comcast are increasingly enhancing their business footprint with fiber-based services to penetrate the medium and even large-business customers.

"MSOs targeting business customers want to have a network that is as reliable with the same type of technologies that their competitors have," Stanton said.

Schansman added that they are seeing "MSO customers looking for more best of breed products like an IP gateway rather than only looking at a product with a DOCSIS interface. We have made some traction in that space over the last year or so and we're seeing more MSO providers moving in that direction."