Blur Between "Product" and "Service" for IP Communication Companies Continues

By Doug Mohney

ADTRAN, a stalwart of IP communications hardware, is now deeply into the services businesses. The company recently announced it is offering a hosted and fully-managed Wi-Fi service offering as the first phase of its ProCloud managed services program -- so recently, that the boiler plate within the company's announcement wasn't updated to reflect the positioning change.

At the top of a pair of June 27 press releases, ADTRAN describes itself as "a leading provider of cloud connectivity, enterprise communications and mobility solutions." Scroll down to the bottom of the release, and the company is "a leading global provider of networking and communications equipment."

Beyond my nit-picking, ADTRAN is offering a full slate of services for customers, including turnkey installation of hardware, maintenance and technical support (OK, not so new), and a complete managed service for networks under its ProCloud brand.

I'm used to thinking of ADTRAN as the networking and communications equipment guys, not as a services company. I shouldn't be surprised at the move, since ADTRAN is only doing what GENBAND has done for a number of years; taking a strong core of products and adding services to the portfolio. Nearly all IP PBX manufacturers from Aastra to ShoreTel offer a purchase and services/cloud choice with a per-month/per-seat option.

ADTRAN ProCloud Wi-Fi service, the lead example/prototype for ProCloud, is described as a "'no-worry” managed, business-class Wi-Fi service built on its Bluesocket vWLAN solution. ADTRAN partners will be able to offer a fully-managed Wi-Fi service with 24x7 monitoring and resolution of technical issues, including hardware upgrades and moves/adds/changes, with a guarantee of 99.99 percent infrastructure uptime.

Partners can choose to offer a complete turnkey ADTRAN managed service with access to tech support at priority SLAs, next business day or four hour hardware replacement or offer the service as a Private Label offering under their own brand, with ADTRAN's hosting infrastructure and ProServices behind the curtain.

It's all good for ADTRAN partners that don't have an extensive support system, infrastructure, and/or gaps in geographic coverage. The new managed services probably works out well for some of ADTRAN's larger service provider customers that are looking to outsource just about everything they can. A white-label option enables them to deliver services without a large standing army of technicians. Some integrators can't be too happy with ADTRAN horning in on their business, unless ADTRAN can provide services at a low enough cost to enable a decent markup.

Perhaps a more interesting question is how far service providers are going to outsource their operations. Would ADTRAN go deeper into providing infrastructure-based network services if the phone companies want to move away from a union-based workforce to a contractor arrangement?

Edited by Rachel Ramsey

Contributing Editor

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