Datrix has teamed up with telecommunications company Kelia to promote its range of secure connectivity solutions. In an interview with Kelia Sales Director Kevin Grainger, Mark Thomas discusses the market opportunity.
MT: Tell us a little about your background
KG: I had a great introduction to the world of connectivity. My first role was working in a 24x7 NOC for AT&T. Over time I progressed through the engineering ranks, obtaining CCNA and CCNP qualifications on my way to becoming lead engineer for customers such as JP Morgan, ABB and Cisco.
Whilst I enjoyed the engineering side of things, I think I always saw a more customer-facing role as a logical progression. It wasn’t long before I moved to a pre-sales role for the likes of New Zealand Telecom and PIPEX, designing secure connectivity solutions for some major clients.
Since 2006 I’ve worked as an Account Director within the Wholesale marketplace, for connectivity providers such as Griffin, GCI Channel Solutions and Vaioni; consulting, designing and selling secure connectivity solutions into the likes of the Welsh Assembly and Community Health Partnerships via key partners such as Logicalis, Datrix and Telefonica.
MT: How do you think the market has changed over the years?
I remember a time when you sat in front of a potential customer and all you had was a choice between a £240 ADSL connection or a £20,000 per annum leased line, with nothing in between. As for security, you could only provide something robust with a rigid MPLS solution.
Any secure cloud solution is only as good as the underlying connectivity. The lack of secure bandwidth options at that time stalled the transition to the cloud in my opinion. Over the past 10-15 years we have seen several things happen to change this dynamic.
To start with, the void between an ADSL connection and a leased line has been filled by products such as Ethernet First Mile, Generic Ethernet Access and FTTC. The advantage with these solutions is they can be delivered as a symmetrical, uncontended service at a better price point.
We’ve seen leased line pricing come down significantly. The market now benefits from suppliers utilising third party fibre providers such as Openreach and Virgin Media, or even laying their own fibre. Also, products such as FTTP have increased in availability, offering greater speeds at a reduced cost.
Multi-site solutions were historically provisioned via MPLS, a solution that typically offers little in terms of flexibility, scalability and cost. The emergence of SD WAN addresses these issues and allows for a more agile network with a greater level of control.
Resilience has always been important. Ten years ago, the only real resilience option was a product called Resilient Access Option 2, which would provision two discrete Openreach circuits into the same building. Things have changed, we have many more options available to us. For example, a customer could have a primary connection delivered via Openreach and a secondary connection from a fibre provider such as Virgin or COLT. Virgin and COLT will not use Openreach ducting or exchanges, so the solution is end-to-end resilient. This approach is just as effective as RAO2 but a lot cheaper and less susceptible to ECC’s.
MT: How do you see the market changing in the future.
With leased line prices continuing to fall, and adoption of FTTP on the increase, I think we’ll see the end of products such as GEA, EFM and FTTC.
Affordable leased line connectivity, offering higher symmetrical bandwidths with an SLA, will help fuel business growth and cloud adoption, with solutions such as hosted VoIP and hosted desktop becoming the norm.
Having access to this level of connectivity will be a real game-changer for UK businesses. However, it needs to be provided in a secure fashion. The shift from MPLS to SD-WAN allows providers such as Datrix to provision secure, scalable solutions to any IP point in the world from a cloud-based portal.
Ease of use is one of the key selling points for SD WAN. During lockdown, companies have been able to rapidly provision remote working solutions, enabling homeworkers to work efficiently, and securely, from anywhere.
With the expansion of 4G and 5G, connectivity solutions can be deployed in a matter of days, anywhere across the UK or Europe. Having access to products such as Roaming SIM’s that enable access to four of the main carriers instead of one means signal coverage is assured.
As businesses transition their systems into the cloud, the demand for bandwidth will only increase. Leased line pricing will continue to fall allowing this thirst for bandwidth to be realised with 10Gb/s bearers becoming the norm. 5G coverage will increase significantly over the next few years allowing for gigabit style connectivity over the air. It remains to be seen whether 5G will replace or complement traditional fixed line networks but whatever the future, gigabit style speeds are here to stay.