I recently had the opportunity to ask Mads Lillelund, president and CEO of Bluesocket
, about the evolution of the IP communications space, its acquisition of Pingtel
and the direction his company is taking.
Bluesocket provides open wireless security and management solutions designed to simplify the complexities of mobile enterprises. Bluesocket provides end-to-end product portfolio for universities, healthcare organizations, government institutions, libraries, and enterprises to deploy, secure, manage and profit from their wireless LANs. The company’s products allow its customers to build secure, manageable, global WLAN deployments that support mobile workers simultaneously.
To learn more about the company, read my previous blog
entry regarding Bluesocket.
RT: Please outline your new corporate initiatives.
ML: Bluesocket recently acquired SIP-based enterprise communications solutions leader Pingtel to establish a solid foundation for the delivery of converged mobility and unified communications. Combining Bluesocket’s award-winning WLAN and security capabilities with Pingtel’s SIP PBX technology puts Bluesocket in a leadership position to meet the mobility needs of its customers. As 2007 progresses, look for the release of the next-generation Bluesocket MIMO access point compliant with draft two of 802.11n along with a variety of feature and performance enhancements across our entire WLAN controller and access point product family. Also, watch for a formal announcement of Bluesocket’s FMC plan, with product availability in the first half of 2008.
RT: How is IP communications changing your company’s strategy?
ML: Bluesocket is leading the charge in the new business environment that predominantly features IP communications. With the acquisition of Pingtel, Bluesocket has strengthened its ability to provide secure wireless LAN and voice over IP (VoIP) solutions that combine to enhance its unified communications server technology. This technology uniquely positions Bluesocket to deliver a seamless converged user IP communications experience, and also gives customers one place to turn to for critical support.
RT: How has SIP changed communications?
ML: SIP has revolutionized communications, and we’re really just beginning to reap the associated benefits. SIP leveled the VoIP playing field due to its interoperability aspect. No longer can a VoIP supplier lock users into a proprietary system that requires the use of said supplier’s phones, servers, software, gateways, etc. With the interoperability of SIP, users can pick and choose components based on their preferences and have complete interoperability. This lowers the cost of implementing VoIP, and increases adoption rates.
RT: What is the biggest request coming from your customer base?
ML: Many of our customers are asking for open, secure and scalable solutions for converged data and voice from a single vendor. To our customers, the unified wireless communications value proposition involves not only network layer security, but also roaming and seamless handoffs. A truly converged solution offers seamless end-to-end application integration, full telephony and presence feature transparency, plug-and-play management of all the devices, and the integration of the mobility features into the unified communications solution.
RT: How are you answering their demands?
ML: To meet these demands, Bluesocket is focused on providing a complete enterprise mobility solution that unifies the capabilities of secure wireless LAN and SIP-based VoIP while delivering trusted mobile access to applications. Our focus is on delivering open, standards-based enterprise solutions that enable applications such as Secure Corporate Wireless LAN for Data, VoIP, VoWLAN, Fixed Mobile Convergence and Enhanced Guest Access Services. Our secure wireless LAN technology coupled with the acquisition of Pingtel’s VoIP solution places us ahead of the competition in this space, accelerating the delivery of a truly unified solution to the market to satisfy customer demand.
RT: What do you think the future of the market is?
ML: In the future, we will see more technology convergence and interoperability at an affordable price with mobility and security playing key roles. We are in the early stages of this market now and we are seeing many early adopters. As convergence becomes more widely available and implemented more frequently, the traditional PBX vendors will have to keep up or get left behind. A forklift upgrade solution will no longer suffice, and demand will be placed on interoperability with feature functionality and total cost of ownership.
RT: How does the U.S. growth rate compare to the rest of the world?
ML: Bluesocket’s WLAN product sales are approximately 70 percent domestic compared with 30 percent international. When looking at VoIP adoption rates, the U.S. is lagging behind Europe. However, with at-home VoIP becoming a commodity through cable providers, more users will be comfortable with the technology and the U.S. will catch-up, both on a consumer and an enterprise level. That said, many current wire line providers are very entrenched, not eager to give up their position, and not ready to adopt and distribute VoIP. The VoIP technology in Europe currently surpasses that of the U.S. due to a climate of innovation and eager technology adoption.
RT: What do you think of Google and Apple entering the telecom market?
ML: Due to its ubiquity, Google entering the VoIP fray may put pressure on consumer VoIP products like Skype, as easier user access and familiarity with the Google brand will drive usage. At this point, there does not seem to be much effect on the enterprise market. Apple is late to the market and bundling solutions that are already available. This makes it more convenient for the user, but will not likely affect the enterprise market. Enterprise users want a reliable product that contains the features they need and the support they deserve. Until the Google or Apple products can scale and have failover, the enterprise market will not pay much attention. However, anything that drives consumer adoption and awareness of VoIP is great!
RT: How about Microsoft?
ML: Microsoft is late to market, and will have a lot of work to try and catch up. Their forthcoming innovations and marketing effort will undoubtedly push adoption of VoIP to even greater heights, but users are likely to find features and robustness to be lacking. However, ultimately a greater VoIP good will come from Microsoft’s entrance into the market, and it is very laudable that they selected SIP.
RT: How will wireless technologies change our market?
ML: Wireless technologies will enable the work force to become more mobile and collaborate more often on technologies that wireless has helped converge. However, with this mobility, collaboration, and convergence comes security concerns. Users will become more demanding in terms of reachability, roaming and media. Wireless technologies that support these demands will require reliable authentication and policy-based user access safeguards. On top of this, network virus prevention tools and filters to block harmful programming are needed. Wireless is the new trend in business that will enable many things but implementing it properly and securely is crucial.
RT: How will communications evolve over the next five years?
ML: Over the next five years we will see more demand with regard to collaboration and convergence from end users. Less emphasis will be placed on the amount of features a communications product offers, and will shift to how well the product interoperates with others. This will lead to a decline in the costs associated with communications for both consumers and enterprises.
RT: What sorts of things will we be hearing about during your presentation at ITEXPO?
ML: FMC is generating a lot of buzz in the industry but many aspects of the technology need to be sorted out. The consumer is driving FMC and businesses need to keep up and answer the demands, including business model adjustment and IT support organization. On a provider level; seamless handoffs, industry strategic partnerships and alliances, business models, revenue sharing, and optimal dual-mode technology need to be discussed and answered. Our session will discuss these topics and answer questions that currently plague the industry. As the technology is cutting edge, there is a great deal is interest.
RT: Why is your presentation a “Can’t Miss?”
ML: Evolving Business Operations and Sales Models is a “can’t miss” because FMC it inevitably the way business is moving. Business and IT managers will have to adopt this technology to keep up with the needs of their operations and sales staffs. But what is the FMC roadmap, how soon can we expect adoption, and how are providers deciding on the details?
RT: What do you want the industry to know about your company?
ML: Bluesocket has heard the FMC demands of our clients and is answering them. We acquired Pingtel to give us another in-house piece of the FMC puzzle, and are pushing ahead with a roadmap for FMC release in the first-half of next year. By defining a path and combining our secure wireless and VoIP, we are leading the FMC charge.
RT: Please make one surprising prediction we will see in 5 years.
ML: Voice communications will become free of charge.