Category: SD-WAN

What is in store for MPLS with the rise of SD-WAN?

SD-WAN Has Not Completely Replaced MPLS

What is in store for MPLS with the rise of SD-WAN?When even a major research operation like Gartner is asking questions like “Is MPLS dead?”, it can be forgiven that some might think multiprotocol label switching (MPLS) has joined the great dumpster of technological history. It’s a funny thing, but most of the people suggesting that MPLS has passed on are largely connected to software-defined wide area networking (SD-WAN) provision. SD-WAN is growing in adoption, but isn’t likely to completely replace MPLS.

So Why Isn’t MPLS Dead, Anyway?

There’s no doubt that SD-WAN has made a lot of gains. But MPLS is still delivering value on several fronts.

Legacy systems. MPLS is increasingly a legacy system. A Nemertes study found that 78% of organizations that have SD-WAN in place won’t be shutting down MPLS operations. Though a substantial percentage plan to restrict it, or otherwise reduce its use, complete shutdowns are unlikely. MPLS was a major investment; why lose the utility of an investment before it’s necessary?

Possibility of hybridization. More and more users are looking at SD-WAN and MPLS as complementary, not competitive, systems. SD-WAN is providing some excellent ways to cut costs by taking some of the heat off an MPLS system. Both together, therefore, can provide cost-effective power for applications that means efficiency without sacrifice.

Clear difference of function. MPLS is commonly seen as a great way to connect two specific points together. But MPLS doesn’t work so well on the global stage, and there’s SD-WAN’s opportunity. That means that MPLS can do well to connect the specialized and the local, while SD-WAN can expand to the wider picture.

A CIO’s balancing act. With MPLS doing so well on one side of the equation, and SD-WAN doing so well on the other, it behooves us to realize that the chief information officer (CIO) might well want to keep both running to ensure maximum smoothness of operation…as well as his or her post. Why drop what works, when a small addition can keep it working?

How Can I Find the Best Mix of MPLS and SD-WAN For My Business?

Some may want to take advantage of MPLS’ unique benefits. Others may want to proceed right to SD-WAN. For those who aren’t sure either way, a good place to pin down your needs is to drop us a line at MicroCorp. We’ve got experience on both sides of the spectrum and can readily help you figure out just the right mix for your operations. So get in touch with us and get started on the best communications profile for your operations.

SD-WAN isn't going anywhere any time soon.

You’re Not Too Late for Your Share of SD-WAN Sales

SD-WAN isn't going anywhere any time soon.It’s easy to feel left behind on a lot of topics these days. Wish you’d bought a pile of bitcoin back in 2011? Wish you’d bought Google at the IPO? Being left behind is an easy state to be in, but the good news for those looking to make sales in software-defined wide-area networking (SD-WAN) is that the good times haven’t really started rolling yet. There’s still plenty of room to make a mark in this market, with a little of the right information.

Why Isn’t It Too Late to Get in on SD-WAN Sales?

There are several reasons.

There’s no set blueprint for sales. If conditions had evolved to the point where everyone who wanted SD-WAN already had it, then there would have been sure protocols for making sales, derived from patterns made by successful sales attempts. But even as recently as June, groups like VeloCloud were noting that there wasn’t an established blueprint for sales, which means there’s still clearly room to run.

Growth still forecast. Several separate reports from several different market research firms agree on one point: the compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of SD-WAN does not fall to zero after 2017. If the growth rate is not stopped completely, then there is room for you to sell.

New developments. If there is to be growth in the market, then developers in the field will pursue their own slice of it. Changes in hardware and software, and the interactions between the two, will still be called for. Replacements for broken systems will be needed, and newer, faster, and better tools will emerge. Those systems will need to be sold, and that means opportunity in selling.

Die-hards will hold out. SD-WAN is often regarded as a good way to replace multiprotocol label switching (MPLS) systems. There are still MPLS users out there, who haven’t made the jump yet for several reasons. Maybe the systems “still work.” Maybe they’re waiting-and-seeing until the new tax cuts arrive to see what effect that has on business. Whatever the reason, the old ways are still in play, and that means opportunity for the astute.

How Do I Get Started Selling SD-WAN?

If you’re looking to sell SD-WAN, then the way to start is by contacting us at MicroCorp. We have an extensive partnership system that opens up access to a range of services and supplementary materials to help you get the best chance at success in this still-growing field. So just drop us a line to get started.

There is still time to know how to sell SD-WAN.

SD-WAN: Don’t Worry, You Haven’t Been Left Behind

There is still time to know how to sell SD-WAN.It’s easy for MicroCorp partners to feel like they’ve missed the SD-WAN train. While seeming like it’s all the rage, it is actually here to stay, and if you haven’t made the effort to educate yourself on the ins and outs of the technology (or SDN, for starters) then of course you’ll be daunted. But, it’s not too late, and here’s why.

The Myth of SD-WAN

When I give talks on the topic, I ask the room: “How many of you are talking about SD-WAN?” Everyone raises their hands.

Then I ask: “How many of you have quoted an SD-WAN deal?” A portion of the group sits down.

Then: “How many people have installed and gotten paid on SD-WAN deals?” Usually, out of 200 people, 5 people are left standing after that question.

Therein lies the hype versus the reality. Yes, it’s the future. Yes, everyone’s talking about it. But only a small number of people have made deals because SD-WAN has failed to productize thus far.

SD-WAN has taken a while to adopt because it is similar to the cloud in that few people truly understand it and don’t feel comfortable bringing it up with customers. Everyone wants to do something with the cloud, but until recently, no one knew how to put it to work, and this is the conundrum of SD-WAN that MicroCorp partners need to know.

The Need to Productize

Business owners are already buying internet circuits, phone service, and they need to transition to hosted, or move their servers to the cloud, etc. SD-WAN is the next transition for MicroCorp partners already selling those services. But they need to understand where SD-WAN comes in and what its benefits to the customer are.

People have realized what the business case for cloud is now. SD-WAN is approaching that stage. Asking people if they want SD-WAN will fall flat if you don’t explain the business case in real terms. Provide examples of real use-cases such as a gas station’s network goes down and they can’t run credit cards. Every minute lost is tons of revenue. And if that company has multiple branches? 10-fold loss.

Businesses rushed to the cloud without realizing what that connection really means if it goes away. SD-WAN is an actual solution to the difficulties of the cloud transition.

The key element MicroCorp partners can embrace in order to sell SD-WAN is to demonstrate the real need. SD-WAN enables vital business services to stay up when an outage happens so they don’t lose tangible amounts of revenue.

Want to know more about how to bring the most innovative technology in the channel to your partners and customers? SimpleWAN and MicroCorp are educating partners every day on how to connect customers with SD-WAN. Talk to us today to learn more.

The right vendor designs SD-WAN according to the needs of the client.

Demand Customization in Your Clients’ SD-WAN to Ensure Success

The new enterprise has arrived. No longer are employees required exclusively to arrive at a set start time at a physical location, find comfort in a cube and churn out unrealistic outcomes. Today, technology has made flexibility possible through the cloud and Software as a Service (SaaS) applications that help companies achieve success regardless of physical location. As such, professionals now work from home, the road and any other location that supports their focus on work-life balance.

The drive to implement software-defined wide area networking (SD-WAN) solutions is facilitated by the demand for improving branch office connectivity and mobile capabilities among those branch employees who must be able to be productive on the go. Plus, companies are looking for solutions that enable them to integrate existing services that meet the requirements of the customer base. The best way to accomplish this is with custom installations, initiated by experienced teams.

To truly get the benefits associated with SD-WAN, it’s also crucial that licensing is simple, and all-inclusive. This simplified connectivity ensures features are more easily configured to meet the needs of the customer, without adding to the price. The solution also needs to incorporate access to hybrid networks to solve connectivity challenges at each location. Wireless, of course, is a must as it is no longer a back-up service, but instead a key element of productivity.

Still, there are a number of different elements inherent in the operation of the multi-location company that must be considered before SD-WAN can be implemented and start to deliver value. For instance, a particular company understands they are ready to make the move to SD-WAN, but has long relied on multiple carriers to support branches across many states. In order to modernize the network, simplifying connectivity and network management is critical, while keeping application performance top of mind.

The best approach is to study the needs and usage patterns of each independent branch so as to truly understand the needs that must be met in order for SD-WAN to deliver value. Then, in the process of designing the right SD-WAN development plan, it helps to consider best practice applications that help meet the needs of the individual users. Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) strategies, for instance, help to leverage existing services, while preserving device and usage habits employees already have.

Working in collaboration with internal IT and IP teams is also essential, as they will bear the responsibility for the SD-WAN and anything supported through this new deployment. Their understanding, buy-in and support are essential to any project with the primary goal of changing the network so as to support leading-edge technology and new ways of doing business.

This is where MicroCorp comes in. Our experience in the industry revolves around understanding the needs of our clients through their lens, not ours. When we partner with you to deliver solutions to your clients, they’re focused on benefits and not processes. We’ll work with you to design solutions that best meet your clients’ needs, and you determine the best approach to customization through key collaborations. Contact us today to start those conversations.

Bigleaf’s John Hogan talks SD-WAN, Sales, and Advice for Channel Partners

As SD-WAN makes its way around the channel — challenging forecasts for MPLS, sales, and expertise — we reached out to John Hogan, VP of Partner Sales & Business Development for Bigleaf Networks to give us his scoop on SD-WAN as it stands today. We talk sales opportunities, the types of SD-WAN, and advice for partners. Check out the interview below:

Keenan: With all the buzz out there about SD-WAN, what are some of the essential points partners have to have in their arsenal when selling SD-WAN?

Hogan: I know the SD-WAN space can seem daunting and confusing – even for partners that consider themselves to be industry veterans. My best advice for partners looking to become educated on their SD-WAN options is to categorize the different suppliers into a few major categories, and then work with their MicroCorp support team to build a relationship with at least one solid player in each category.

At Bigleaf, we’ll be the first to admit that there really is no single SD-WAN vendor that’s the right fit for every customer. So it’s important to have a few options ready to go based on the customer’s applications and network architecture.

Here are three SD-WAN supplier categories that we tend to keep track of at Bigleaf:

Carrier-based SD-WAN platforms

  • Major focus: SD-WAN as an MPLS enhancement or MPLS replacement
  • Includes a Gateway component for cloud-based traffic


  • Typically replaces firewalls (complex sales process, longer install)
  • Ties your SD-WAN sale to a specific carrier
  • Support experience can be challenging due to broad product set, and the fact that the carrier is re-selling another vendor’s SD-WAN platform

Premise-only solutions (no Gateway component)

  • Major focus: Built mainly for site-to-site connectivity


  • Typically replace firewalls (complex sales process, longer install)
  • Not as strong for cloud-based traffic due to the lack of a Gateway
  • Some require large, upfront equipment purchases

Firewall/Cloud Agnostic (this is Bigleaf’s sweet spot!)

Major focus: Easy self-installation of SD-WAN for cloud-based traffic

Onsite router deploys outside the customer’s firewall (less complicated install)

Cloud Gateway network setup for any cloud-based traffic or site-to-site VPNs


  • Primarily designed for internet connections (not a fit for load-balancing with MPLS or Private-Line circuits)

Keenan: Are there any commonly misunderstood points about SD-WAN partners should be aware of?

Hogan: One of the greatest misunderstood points about SD-WAN is the common belief that SD-WAN is primarily designed as an MPLS enhancement or replacement. These talking points have been driven largely by the major carriers.

Frankly, if you’re a carrier with a large base of MPLS revenue, it’s going to make sense to target SD-WAN technology (and marketing) towards the concept of leveraging SD-WAN intelligence to load-balance existing MPLS networks with broadband to build a hybrid environment for site-to-site connectivity. And that can be a great use of the technology for an enterprise customer with a large IT budget and a long-term need for more traditional, site-to-site architecture.

At Bigleaf, we’re more focused on leveraging SD-WAN technology as a more robust, cost-effective access to cloud applications. We call our technology “Cloud-First SD-WAN”.  We chuckle when we hear people say that SD-WAN is disrupting MPLS. In our view, the cloud disrupted MPLS well before SD-WAN was popular.

For many customers that are migrating applications out to the cloud, their legacy network architecture no longer makes as much sense. Their major connectivity needs have essentially migrated from a hub and spoke model to a remote-site-to-many approach. Efficient access to hosted VoIP, SaaS, AWS or Azure, etc. have become more important than access to an HQ or single data center. Any remaining site-to-site connectivity needs can be addressed with VPNs that will always remain healthy and stable thanks to SD-WAN’s prioritization and seamless failover capabilities.

Clearly, the Bigleaf SD-WAN focus plays out more in the small to mid-sized customer base, and the carrier SD-WAN focus plays out more in the enterprise space.

Keenan: What’s the best way partners can educate themselves about SD-WAN and how to sell it?

Hogan: Like anything in telecom, it really comes down to a combination of learning the key technology, but then also building a good working relationship with a few key suppliers. Good technology is never enough by itself. It’s the combination of technology and good service that makes customers happy.

For MicroCorp partners, I would highly recommend the Ultimate Partner Training Series for an opportunity to do a deep dive on SD-WAN, data center and advanced hosted solutions. Bigleaf has participated in several of these events in the past couple years, and they accomplish both the education component and the vendor relationship component. Or, just schedule a personalized training call with Bigleaf Networks, and at least one vendor from the three major SD-WAN categories noted above.

Lastly, in order to truly understand the capability of SD-WAN, you need to work through a few real-life customer implementations to experience the installation process and hear your customers’ feedback first-hand. All of our order forms have a 30-day money-back guarantee, but we’re also happy to provide a 30-day free trial when needed to allow customers to test our technology risk-free. Use these tools to help close some early wins!

Keenan: How should partners look at MPLS now that SD-WAN is encroaching on its market?

Hogan: With any major technology migration, there are some that will see new technology as a threat. And others that will see opportunity in the evolution. MPLS is not likely to disappear anytime soon. But I think many people agree it will die a slow death over a period of several years. So it’s important to build an SD-WAN strategy moving forward. That strategy can be multi-pronged:

  • Begin working on a proactive migration plan for all of your MPLS customers that will play out for several years. That plan won’t likely mean getting rid of MPLS for all customers. Some cloud-centric customers may certainly replace MPLS with an SD-WAN-enabled internet solution. While others may incorporate more of a hybrid MPLS/broadband approach. Either way, the future of your customers’ WANs are likely to incorporate an SD-WAN component in some degree or fashion in the next few years.
  • Don’t forget about the cloud! One of the greatest benefits of SD-WAN technology is more cost-effective access to cloud applications that is carrier and physically diverse. Every SD-WAN sale is a potential pivot-point into future cloud application sales for that customer. Treat your SD-WAN sales as an excuse to have a conversation with your customer about their current and future application needs — and how those needs can be met through future cloud migrations — and you have a built-in roadmap to a cloud-centric business plan for your company. Every SD-WAN sale results in a purpose-built roadway to the cloud, so help your customers use it!
  • Embrace the “every quote” opportunity with SD-WAN. The market is quickly hitting a breaking point where most businesses can no longer afford to work with a single, dumb internet pipe. With the increasing adoption of cloud-based applications, site-to-site VPNs, SaaS, O365, etc, the internet has become a lifeline to most businesses. So educate customers on SD-WAN as a part of every internet/VoIP/cloud quote that goes out the door. It will increase your ARPU and help combat the eventual decline of MPLS revenue.
SD-WAN answers many of the challenges posed by security that demands a higher focus on networks.

SD-WAN Offers Answers to Network Security Problems

SD-WAN answers many of the challenges posed by security that demands a higher focus on networks.Enterprises often take a layered approach to security, deploying solutions for network, compute and application. With so many solutions increasingly being network-centered, such as Internet of Things components and cloud technology, many organizations are recognizing the need for a network-focused security strategy. In many cases, software-defined wide area network (SD-WAN) is able to address the challenges of network security.

Networks are the area to which there’s been the most change in recent years, so it makes sense that security is more advanced in this realm. Here are five recommendations for implementing secure SD-WAN:

  1. Add encryption to your WAN transport. When they choose SD-WAN, companies have access to low-cost broadband and can encrypt all Internet flow to each site without the need for administrators to make manual configuration changes to routers after each change to the network. It’s also important to note that SD-WAN is more secure than most private IP services because there can’t be a breach to the data even if the carrier network is threatened.
  2. Make sure your cloud connection is secure. It doesn’t matter how secure your client’s public cloud service is, whether they’re accessing Amazon or Salesforce. Every time they transfer sensitive data over the Internet to get to the cloud service, it’s an opportunity for a security breach. The SD-WAN provider may offer granular Internet breakout so that your client can distinguish between security mandates to move traffic through particular secure gateways. They’ll also have next-generation firewalls stationed at your branch or in the cloud or data storage center. All of the inherent risks associated with cloud solutions is mitigated by SD-WAN.
  3. Cover local branch security. Each of your client’s branch offices will require security, especially in cases where there is direct Internet access. The cost of buying and configuring physical appliances for each site can be prohibitive, and this method requires an engineer to travel to each site. SD-WAN allows your client to deploy VPNs, firewalls or WAN optimization from a central location by using network functions virtualization. This makes it convenient to provide security coverage for each branch location.
  4. Meeting requirements for compliance. The rules governing healthcare and financial services, including HIPAA or PCI data security fit perfectly with SD-WAN technology. SD-WAN allows the enterprise to create virtual overlays to segment applications traffic.
  5. Create secure segmentation. Segmentation allows the IT team to isolate applications traffic for security purposes or to work with specific performance requirements. While legacy networks could do this, it was time-consuming and challenging. Segmentation with SD-WAN allows for consistency of configurations and best practices defined and enforced through business intent policies.

With security becoming a growing IT cost, MicroCorp anticipates more customers selecting an SD-WAN technology to create a secure and manageable cloud-based environment. As the demand for more agile, cloud-based WAN-technologies accelerates, we continue to provide focus to the variety of WAN technologies available. Contact us today to find out the best solution for your business.


The Complications of Hybrid SD-WAN

SD-WANSoftware-defined wide area networking (SD-WAN) is creating a significant buzz in the IT world, but despite its myriad benefits, many companies that implement it aren’t doing so as a replacement for multiprotocol label switching (MPLS). Instead, SD-WAN is being added to existing MPLS configurations to eliminate complexity and create differentiation.

The benefits of implementing SD-WAN are numerous, including cost savings, improved performance and agility, and better security and reliability than what can be achieved through an MPLS system. Many companies are adding SD-WAN into their existing MPLS systems rather than switching them, creating a hybrid SD-WAN situation.

The goal with these hybrid systems is to capture the lower costs for Internet traffic, and, in theory, to eliminate complexity in the network. What ends up happening, instead, is that enterprises end up with more complexity than they anticipated. Many providers of SD-WAN are now bundling managed services in a way that sidesteps a more complex configuration.

For instance, when a company has an existing MPLS system, and they decide they want to introduce another type of connection either as a backup or to access a lower-cost bandwidth, it can create some complications. The new connection requires a reconfiguration to achieve the goals the company is after to get the desired policy.

There are many determinations that have to be worked through before an enterprise can go live with an SD-WAN hybrid. The company has to decide which type of Internet traffic is set to go over certain lines by default, and which conditions will dictate another line (jitter, delay, latency). If a line is down, it must be determined how the Internet traffic will be prioritized until additional lines are available.

In this situation, you’re going from a single link where questions are simply of a quality of service (QoS) nature, to a conversation about load balancing and how to route Internet traffic.

Another topic that comes up with clients that want to implement an SD-WAN hybrid solution is the elimination of hair pinning with Internet traffic. An SD-WAN component allows traffic to flow freely between the cloud and the enterprise, but no longer between branches of the enterprise so it offers a much better situation for Internet traffic flow.

The introduction of SD-WAN is still relatively new, so providers are still getting a feel for the preferences of their enterprise clients in how SD-WAN fits into an existing MPLS configuration, or if there’s a desire to fully replace the MPLS. In many situations, a bundling of managed services strikes the right balance without introducing unnecessary complexity.

Talk with MicroCorp about creating customized managed services for SD-WAN for your clients. We can walk you through every consideration and benefit for including SD-WAN in the network setup for a particular enterprise. Give us a call.


Understanding the Differences Between SD-WAN and SDN

Wondering what the difference is between SD-WAN and SDN? MicroCorp has answers.There has been an explosion of interest in software-defined wide area networking (SD-WAN) as enterprises look for ways to quickly equip new branches with network access and address security needs for a growing IT infrastructure. As SD-WAN becomes more widespread, it is easily confused with its predecessor, the still-relevant and useful software-defined networking (SDN).

SD-WAN and SDN share similarities, most notably their separation of the control plane and data plane, and they both support the implementation of additional virtual network functions.

The original intent of SDN was to meet modern computing needs of local area networks (LANs) and service provider networks. It was developed as a way to support the changing needs of data centers and networks. IT professionals like it for its central control console and the agility achieved by being able to directly program the SDN.

Many of the same core principles are true for SD-WAN, but it has its own distinguishing features:

  • SD-WAN provides software-defined application routing to the WAN.
  • An enterprise’s locations, spread out over a large geographic area (even on a global scale) can be easily and quickly connected using SD-WAN, connecting data centers, remote and mobile users, as well as headquarters and branch offices.
  • While SDN is programmed and configured by the customer or user, SD-WAN programming is managed by the vendor, making it a simpler option for the end user.
  • SD-WAN’s focus is on connecting users across a geographic span, while SDN is concentrated on the local area network.
  • SD-WAN is routable through software-defined applications that can be run virtually, and SDN is enabled by network function virtualization.

SD-WAN is an application-based routing system, rather than a traditional, packet-based network routing system, which allows companies to use broadband Internet with better performance and quality, as well as at a lower cost than what they are accustomed to with multi-protocol label switching (MPLS).

SD-WAN allows for a centralized application routing governance, while improving both agility and flexibility. It allows you to easily identify which applications are traveling over the WAN and create guiding policies on how they are prioritized on the network.

Overall, SD-WAN simplifies the network management for the end user, allowing your IT professionals to focus on other areas of your technology management. It’s important, particularly if you are adding SD-WAN to an existing network structure, that you have a clear understanding of how this addition will impact WiFi, voice and video, as well as other areas.

Before choosing your network solution for a growing enterprise, talk with our team at MicroCorp. We can help you determine the best fit for your network needs and learn how SD-WAN will impact associated programs and your overall security coverage. Give us a call to talk more.

Comcast’s Cary Tengler Talks Sales, SD-WAN, and Partner Success

I sat down with Cary Tengler, Executive Director, National Partner Programs at Comcast to talk about how partners can find the opportunities to sell evolving technologies.

Join Microcorp and Comcast Business' Cary Tengler for a conversation on channel partner success.
As technologies evolve rapidly, it is the constant struggle of the partner to keep up with new solutions, and how to sell them. I talked with Comcast’s Cary Tengler to discuss what partners can do to stay up on technology trends, educate themselves to sell more, and to build complex sales. See our full exchange below.

How can partners become well-rounded in the channel, and be able to sell multiple services/technologies to build complex sales?

Tengler: I don’t actually believe that growth-oriented partners need to be well-rounded. Instead, I think partners must focus on specific verticals and solution sets in which they have – or can develop – a competitive advantage.  It used to be the case that partners could be very successful by being networking generalists and providing a quick turnaround on three quotes for a T1.

This clearly is no longer the case. The advent of cloud-based solutions has moved much of the IT budget and decision-making into disparate parts of the organization, including HR, sales, operations, and most importantly marketing. This requires growth-oriented partners to focus more on their customers’ business outcomes than transactional sales techniques. This is why MicroCorp’s Ultimate Partner Training is so critical to the sales partner community. This in-depth training provides an immersive experience that truly teaches partners the “how and why” of positioning and selling emerging technologies like cloud connectivity, data center, and SD-WAN solutions.

As a leader in cable, fiber, and ethernet technologies, how do you see the growth of “bandwidth hog” solutions such as SD-WAN impacting the need for cable/fiber, etc.?

Tengler: With the caveat that SD-WAN is actually a solution for effectively managing bandwidth hogs, Comcast is a huge advocate of SD-WAN and we’ll be releasing our own solution later this year.

The principal benefit is that it frees the end-user from the tyranny of MPLS, a 20+ year old technology that is expensive, difficult to manage and totally unsuited for utilizing cloud-based solutions. Many end users continue to maintain their MPLS networks due to a toxic mix of fear and inertia.

Prior to SD-WAN, an MPLS customer seeking to upgrade their WAN was faced with significant technical and economic roadblocks (i.e., rip-and-replace) and often chose to live with an expensive sub-optimal solution rather than attempt a wholesale network replacement.

SD-WAN removes both the technical and economic barriers and allows end-users to mix and match network technologies to better manage their solutions and desired business outcomes.

And by removing the MPLS “requirement”, Comcast is highly confident that our coax and fiber services will be very well positioned to be the MPLS killer.

What is Comcast’s role in helping partners deal with and learn about these “bandwidth hog” technologies? 

Tengler: Since the inception of Comcast Business, we have led the cable and telecom industry in simultaneously reducing costs and driving bandwidth speed increases, so to a certain extent, we’ve been helping partners by providing the most reliable, cost-effective high-speed bandwidth solutions on the market.

More specifically, as Comcast expands its services portfolio beyond traditional data and voice into cloud and data center connectivity, premise-based services like Wifi Pro and Smart Office, and even IoT, we are investing heavily in training, operations, support, and, of course, in our master agents like MicroCorp.

Educating and enabling sales partners is hard and ongoing, for all parties involved, but ultimately it’s that three-way partnership that will position the channel as the primary solutions provider for next generation solutions.

We are constantly training our partners on evolving data center, SD-WAN, and hosted technologies. What would you say are some of the most important things partners need to consider when selling these solutions?

Tengler: I’ll go back to my first comment and suggest that partners identify the solutions and verticals in which they have or can establish a competitive advantage. The decentralization of IT budgets requires that sales partners speak the language of the “line of business” manager which typically moves beyond speeds-and-feeds into business outcomes. Focus, focus, focus.

And, no surprise here, I believe every sales partner must develop a familiarity with cable connectivity (at a minimum) and establish a selling partnership with the local cableco. As more mission-critical applications move to the cloud, having a diverse back-up connectivity solution is not just nice, but necessary. This redundancy and diversity is best addressed with cable.

How does Comcast work with master agents who focus on complex sales? How is the approach different from that of working with masters who focus on SMBs and smaller, individual sales?

Tengler: Comcast’s Master Agents are supported by an outstanding team of 75+ support and operations professionals, of which fully half are dedicated to complex sales support. Additionally, we have 22 partner sales managers and 12 sales engineers who work closely with local sales partners, primarily complex solutions design and other pre-sales issues. The sales engineers take the lead in our field-based partner training on a wide variety of solutions, including fiber, WAN, SD-WAN, hosted voice and UCaaS.

As compared to those Masters that focus on SMB sales, which are more transactional and operations focused, we invest disproportionately in the training and 3-wide teaming model that are necessary for success in selling and delivering expensive and complex solutions.

But don’t get me wrong – we love SMB and are happy to support those sales partners and customers as well. In fact, our 1Gbps coax (+ SD-WAN solution) is already making its way into more complex solutions sales.