How SDN Creates New Business for the Channel

Wherever you look, the digital transformation is underway. Old business models disappear or are being replaced by new, digital processes, which are turning traditional approaches upside down. While stable and reliable networks have always been an important basis for digitalization, digital transformation brings new challenges – not only to manufacturers and users, but also to system integrators. Customer networks no longer have to be merely reliable, they also have to adapt to new ideas and requirements. The highest possible agility and speed are in demand—characteristics that conventional networks simply cannot offer.

With the launch of the LANCOM Management Cloud, LANCOM answers the call: As a unique combination of Software-defined Networking and cloud-based management, the LMC revolutionizes the way networks are designed and how they are configured and managed—this is now intelligent and automatic. To find out more about the LANCOM Management Cloud and how SDN works, take a look at our LMC blog post.

Bringing massive benefits to customers is not all that the LMC has to offer. It also offers unrivalled advantages to resellers, system houses and integrators, many of whom until now have focused on selling and implementing network hardware.

The Basis is Software-defined

To fully understand the potential that the LMC offers the channel, it helps to step back and take a look at how LANCOM has approached the cloud and software-defined trend in networking.

When cloud-based network management had its advent, LANCOM did not jump on the bandwagon straight away. We closely observed developments in the market and quickly understood that early cloud-based management systems were rather limited in their scope and functionality. Instead of tackling entire network infrastructures, they were focused on certain parts of the network only, i.e. the WAN or the WLAN, and ignored the issue that networks need to be seen in their entirety – from end to end. What’s more: many of them had nothing to do with modern Software-defined Networking technologies like SD-WAN, SD-LAN or SD-WLAN, but were merely centralized monitoring/management systems that had been moved to the cloud; the “software-defined” element was largely missing.

SDN LMC Cloud NaaS IaaS Channel

It quickly became clear that LANCOM would take a different approach. We aimed for a central cloud platform that is able to manage and monitor all of the networking components, based on the latest SDN-technologies – offering the full advantages of SDN to entire networks. The management tool should be able to control, manage and monitor the network all the way from the WAN, to the LAN and the WLAN components of the network. The goal was to have a – highly automated – management system in place, offering the well-known features and configuration options that network admins demand, combined with state-of-the-art usability and an easily accessible user interface. After almost two years of development and testing, the result is here: the LANCOM Management Cloud – the world’s first hyper-integrated network management system.

 Dramatic Optimization of Processes

However, the LMC is more than just a very smart tool that makes life easier for our customers – in fact, it is much more. To LANCOM resellers and system integrators, the LMC is the key to dramatically optimized processes. What’s more, it allows them to set up entirely news business models, for anybody who wants to follow the path – the transition to becoming a full-fledged IT service provider.

First and foremost, system houses need have no fear that solutions like the LMC will make their services obsolete. But it will change the way they work.

It is true that it has never been easier to set up, configure and monitor or control a business network than today. At the click of a mouse, complex multisite network structures are rolled out, correctly configured and up and running within minutes. However, pilot projects with the LMC have proven to save admins large amounts of time and hassle. In one example, IT engineers of a small internet service provider started using the LMC for managing and monitoring their customers’ networks. They were able to save up to 80 percent of their time when compared to conventional device-by-device configuration without cloud- or SDN-based network management.

Has this made their services obsolete? No. But it has led to a massive change in the way they do their business today. Instead of spending hours on manually configuring, monitoring and troubleshooting their customers’ networks – including time-consuming travel to their customers’ premises – they are now able to serve more customers at the same time, whilst offering services that are faster, more flexible, and scalable. To cut a long story short: They are making more money from the same resources.

 Creating Entirely New Business Models

In addition to optimizing their own processes, the LMC allows system houses and integrators to venture into new business opportunities. Instead of selling hardware – i.e. one-time only revenues – they are now able to set up sales models that are based on licenses or services that offer recurring revenues and far more intensive relationships with their customers. Typical examples would be cloud-based business services such as Network-as-a-Service (NaaS) and Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS).

How SDN Creates New Business for the ChannelFor many customers, “as-a-service” is a highly attractive proposition. The reason why is: “as-a-service” perfectly matches the expectations of many organizations looking to move away from capital investments in infrastructure (CAPEX) to expenses for operating activities/services (OPEX). What’s more, it makes their lives much easier: With “as-a-service” models, customers do not have to bother about buying the right hardware, its proper configuration, or extra services on top. No wonder that, according to market research, the global NaaS market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 51.6% from 2016 to 2022, from around 2 billion last year to over 22 billion within the next 5 years.

With the Channel at Heart

 As is the case with our traditional hardware business, it is the channel who is at the heart of the LANCOM Management Cloud. And we firmly believe that the LMC offers unrivalled advantages to anybody who wants to follow the path. However, it is an option, a choice. We at LANCOM are not forcing anybody into the cloud—neither our partners, nor our customers. All of our hardware can be operated stand-alone, via conventional tools, or via the LMC. It depends on what suits your business best.

We even go one decisive step further: Apart from offering our LMC via our own datacenter (as a public cloud service hosted close to our headquarters in Aachen, Germany), any partner can install their own private LMC instance at their own – or, if need be, even at their customers’ – datacenters, giving them the chance to set up their very own services or NaaS model. Thus, the transformation from classical hardware reseller/system integrator to service provider/enabler is achievable, from end to end.

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