Remember the year 2002? Almost the entire IT industry was adrift in the wake of the dot-com bubble that burst in March 2000. The future of many companies remained uncertain. The worst possible time to start an IT company, you might think. We took the risk nevertheless and, in May 2002, we started our business with a small but highly dedicated team at LANCOM Systems GmbH.
From Startup to Germany’s Leading Supplier
The result: In 15 years with LANCOM we have written a real success story “Made in Germany”. From a startup with just about two dozen highly motivated employees, the company has grown so that we now have almost 300 highly qualified colleagues. A sales network that, at the beginning, consisted of just a few distributors and specialist resellers, has over the years become a diverse partner landscape, which now includes more than 7,400 partners worldwide.
Within just a few years, LANCOM has established itself as the leading German provider of professional networking solutions for business customers and the public sector. We even mastered the EU crisis in 2010 with a double-digit growth in sales thanks to full order books.
Deliberately Against the Flow
Security and trustworthiness have always had top priority at LANCOM. The rigor with which we implement this is demonstrated by our company philosophy: We develop our own operating system LCOS as well as the LANCOM Management Cloud (LMC), which is based on SDN technology and offers Cloud-based network management from German data centers; we manufacture our products in Germany, and we can guarantee that our solutions are free of backdoors. All of this is thanks to our company headquarters being located in Germany and our strong circle of German shareholders.
With our rigorous “IT security made in Germany”, right from the start we swam deliberately against the flow in the network markets. And we did it with great success! With growth averaging double-digit figures since our inception, and often considerably higher than that of the market, we have taken on a significant role in our home market and Europe.
As a German IT company, the spotlight was on us for the first time in 2010 when Chancellor Merkel visited our booth at CeBIT. And yet as the future revealed, the interest of politics in home-grown IT solutions would continue to grow.
Snowden: Revelations that Shook the Digital World
In 2013, Edward Snowden let the proverbial bomb drop with his revelations about the NSA. By sheer coincidence, just a few weeks previously we had completed a Common Criteria certification by the BSI (German Federal Office for Information Security). To many people it abruptly became clear that we need alternatives to American and Asian technology. All of a sudden we made headlines in leading daily newspapers. Politicians were queuing up, and Chancellor Merkel visited us again in 2014.
It felt as if there would be no end to the handshaking with politicians. All of a sudden politics and information technology were inseparable and digital issues were increasingly in the public eye. That feeling was no illusion, as our campaign against router coercion demonstrated—and similarly, the public discussion about legal redress for WLAN hotspot providers in Germany, and also the EU Radio Equipment Directive (RED 2014/53/EU). These examples demonstrate just how important and all-encompassing the subject of networking has become for our society.
As LANCOM grew, our social responsibility grew with us. This is evident from many of our projects and our sustainability strategy. For example, we are engaged in numerous educational and social projects in and around Aachen, and we are working with the aid organization missio on the matter of conflict minerals.
The world of IT and the networking industry move fast. It has always been that way. Hardly a month goes by without some new hype. Trends come and go. You can’t take consistency for granted. But something we noticed in the formative years at LANCOM was: Customers appreciate reliability. Particularly for highly sensitive projects, as is undeniably the case in networking, partners and end customers wish for a strong companion who is right there when the pressure is on. Then as now, we at LANCOM have always scored points here: With a high degree of continuity in terms of management and employees (to this day, the overwhelming majority of our colleagues from the startup phase are still with us), with reliability, and a long-term corporate and product strategy.
The requirements have changed considerably over time. In the first few years of this century, topics like wireless LAN, hotspots and VPN site connectivity were still new territory for many firms. By now, however, digitalization has caught up with each and every one of us. Every company and every organization benefits from the digitalization of its business processes and new services. What’s more, anybody who misses the bandwagon of digitalization and networking will see their competitiveness seriously endangered in the long term.
Simplicity and Flexibility for Complex Demands
There were consequences for us too. 15 years ago we were building individual products, such as an access point that met the latest standards. Today we are dealing with powerful all-encompassing solutions designed to solve a Gordian knot: While the requirements of networks are becoming ever more demanding and complex, customers at the same time need a maximum of simplicity and flexibility to keep their infrastructures at all manageable.
Today’s solutions and products create a basis for the public and private sectors to handle the digital evolution and transformation. This is a great challenge, one that for me lost none of its fascination over the years.
I am always happy to hear or read about exciting and extraordinary projects. For example, did you know that our WLAN solutions have been an elementary component of Mars mission simulations for a number of years now? There they have to operate in the extreme conditions found on glaciers or in the African desert.
Innovations, Innovations, Innovations…
15 years is a long time, and the IT industry is massively driven by innovation. Missing out on an important trend can have lasting effects. This applies to manufacturers and to users in equal measure.
In the past we have proven that we can be the first to bring innovative solutions to the market—despite a competitive environment that is still dominated by large-scale American and Asian corporations with tens of thousands of employees worldwide.
2002 saw the world’s first WLAN access point with integrated VPN—developed by us. One year later, LANCOM’s first simultaneous dual-band high-end WLAN access point saw the light of day—a true world’s first. In 2008 we were the first manufacturer to launch a cellular VPN router, and less than three years ago we developed the world’s first WLAN access point with simultaneous support of electronic displays / shelf labels and Bluetooth Low Energy—which today has already become indispensable for a number of retail chains.
The Next Milestone: the LANCOM Management Cloud
We are writing history once again with the LANCOM Management Cloud. It is the world’s first hyper-integrated network management solution. It more than measures up to solutions from our major competitors; it goes a decisive step further. Thanks to the consistent application of software-defined networking technology (SDN), in future it will be possible to configure and roll-out entire LANCOM infrastructures almost automatically. Insiders speak of SD-WAN, SD-LAN or SD-WLAN—terms that, initially, we also had to get used to.
A Big Thank You!
In spite of all these innovations: 15 years of LANCOM would not have been possible without you, our dear partners and customers, and without you, our dear team!
I would like to take this opportunity to thank all LANCOM partners, customers and, first and foremost, all of the employees for 15 wonderful years of LANCOM! I look forward to continuing our success story with you.