NETGEAR Epidode 6 - How Cloud Managed Networks Can Help A Business Grow
4:13PM Sep 9, 2020
Welcome to switched on thinking a podcast that explores the real world networking challenges faced by businesses of today and the future. Twice a month we deliver insightful and informative analysis of the key role that networking technology plays in driving business success and ensuring business continuity. switched on thinking is brought to you by Netgear, delivering innovative networking solutions you can count on, so you can spend more time on what matters most growing your business. Now, here's your host, acclaimed author and tech columnist, Neil C. Hughes. Welcome back to The switched on thinking podcast where every two weeks I discuss how Netgear and its partners are solving the real world networking challenges of today and the future, but with real world use cases and human stories behind that technology too. And in today's episode, I'm going to draw from my own experience is just expecting free Wi Fi in any small business I've visited, whether that be a cafe or a coffee shop or even a hair salon. But as an X IT guy. I also know that providing staff Wi Fi, guest Wi Fi, adding a printer, Voice over IP phones, security cameras, and so many more devices all take their toll on the network of any small business. So today, I want to explore how cloud managed networks can actually help a business grow, and also learn more about the advantages of a cloud managed network. So today, I've invited Shaheen and Ren who are going to join me in a conversation about all this and other topics in today's podcast, but enough for me. Let's get them both onto the podcast now. Welcome to the switched on thinking podcast guys. Shane, can you begin by telling the listeners a little about yourself and your role at Netgear?
Hello, everyone. Thanks, Neil. My name is Shane. kasi, I'm the Director of Product Line management for insight and services. And inside is a cloud based remote device and network management solution.
Hello, I'm and I'm Erin. I'm overseas from Netgear Benelux I'm the Regional Director taking care of the day to day activities we have in the Netherlands.
Although things have changed during the global pandemic at the moment, would you agree Shane, that for many resellers, the problems and challenges that were present even before COVID, and possibly tell me a little bit more about how they need to meet that new evolving needs of their customers, because there's so much that's changed over the last few months, isn't it?
Absolutely, Neil. The thing about these big disaster scenarios like the pandemic we're having is that they always bring to surface and highlight weaknesses that already exist in any system. And certainly in the case of the channel, and particularly with value added resellers The reality is that they've been struggling for the last decade. Plus, with the rise of online retailers, it's been very challenging for these traditional bars to remain profitable. And I mean, just remain profitable and even make a living, let alone actually grow their business.
And the fact is that it's very hard to compete with the econ the large online retailers because they have the economies of scale on this side, which means that for these value added resellers, their margins keep declining and are just razor thin. And the other part of it is that you know, they're the, they really need to focus on the value added piece of their of their value added reseller acronym. And it's an opportunity for them to do that. But it means that they need to deliver services and while some of the bars were already providing services, many bars were providing services. But typically, those services are very ad hoc. And what I mean by that is that they were time and materials based for the most part. If a customer wanted, you know, a site, a new location setup or a brand new business that they were starting, and they wanted, the it was a small business, and they did not really have any in house expertise, they would reach out to resellers, who would then do a survey of the of the premise and then come up with a list of devices. And then, on a timing materials basis, add the services to both survey the site, but also to instal the devices to configure the devices to set up and configure the network all on a time and material spaces, which is fine, but the problem with that model is that what It's a very linear approach to business, which means that you can only do as much as there are hours in a day and the size of your team within your bar business. So if I'm a bar with three employees, and myself, so total of four, I am limited to how much how many hours the four of us can put in. And also I have a geographic boundary because I can only really drive maybe an hour maximum a couple of hours from my home base. And that's basically the radius of my business, which means that my growth is stymied by both time resources and location, actually three, and it means that my growth will at the most be a kind of slow linear growth. Also, I don't have an opportunity to develop a relationship with my customers because every job is a one off. And once that job is completed, there is no reason for me to have any expectation that I will have any ongoing business with that customer again. So there is an opportunity in the market that we have today. And something that is, you know, certainly been highlighted with the COVID-19. And DNA is that there are technologies available today that allow these bars to very successfully migrate into an MSP or a managed services business and be able to deliver services breaking through all those three boundaries that I spoke up the time and limit the time and materials and limitations, which is a resource constraint, the limitation of geography, the ability to really be only have linear growth, there is an opportunity to break through all of that and it is by using technology that allows for remote configuration and management, it allows for remote ongoing monitoring, support services, troubleshooting, ongoing configure fine tuning of the networks, providing ongoing support firmware management. And as those businesses grow, to really be a partner of where these models can be partners to those small businesses, helping those small businesses grow very efficiently. As I had mentioned, you know, in the traditional model, every sale is ad hoc, and it's so transactional, which means you have very little predictability on how you're going to how you're going to grow your business next year and the year after. But with the recurring revenue model because you're developing a relationship with your customers, it provides bars and the bars are migrating to msps a very Different opportunity to be able to effectively predict how they are going to grow their business. If they got 100 customers in year one, they're probably going to retain the bulk of those customers in year two. And they can focus because they have all these tools that automate so many repeated tasks. It allows them to grow even with that same team. So for example, I had mentioned a team of four. With that same team, you can actually grow your business significantly beyond the capabilities of just the four
just before on a time and materials basis. So that's all the goodness that comes from this model. And it's been exposed by COVID-19 because now we are in a situation where the need for remote remote configuration, the ability to remotely deploy a network, the ability to have ongoing monitoring And management has just come to surface because earlier prior to pre COVID-19, if I was a small business and I had two sites, I my networking purview was really those two sites. But it assumed that I have about 10 employees at each site. Now, I actually have 22 sites. So my networking needs have just grown exponentially because I now need to extend my network into every one of my employees homes, which means that essentially my company's network has extended into every one of those homes and I need help. I need somebody to one allow me to bring my network into each of my employees homes and then on and not be able to configure them and then on an ongoing basis, be able to monitor them to be able to troubleshoot, be able to provide support if my employees need it cetera.
And rather than just focusing on the challenges, Kiki Tell me a little bit more about the networking opportunities and the kind of benefits for VA offers and even SMBs to.
Yeah, so she said a lot about it already. And I would really like to point out that for our bars, it's, it's really important for them to understand that they will have more opportunities to have an improved engagement with their end customer that they can really speak with them on, on a day to day week to week, month to month basis, whatever they like, in order to ensure that they are engaged and that they are on top of their business as well. And if something pops up with their customer, there are first to respond to basically solve this and help their customers or customers out. Second to that it's really important for the forest to understand that moving on with their business model, they can apply a recurring revenue model they can Make money on a monthly basis by selling the surfaces towards their customers rather than actually send selling boxes once a year, once per three year once per five years and, and hoping that they need to replace something later down the line. When they think about the business day currency has today with their customers can be for example, their wireless network or their customer. They can also further expand that business scope they have today with their with their end customers. And they can expand to storage they can expand towards switches, even surveillance, and they can keep on adding services and hardware skills to that single customer. And by doing that, expanding their their business and their footprint within this customer. And by doing all of this, they can actually reclaim the status of being a value added reseller rather than just a box mover because they start to add surfaces, even proactive surfaces. And on top of that, especially during the pandemic where we are in today, they can not only that they manage the office network of their customer or the school's network, but they can also manage the network of the teacher at home, if necessary, or from the employees at home in order to ensure business continuity and data security when employees of their customers starts to work from home, and he often said that the last
experience that anyone has become the minimum expectation for the experience that they want everywhere. And every coffee shop hairstyling cafe, and everywhere that people go now they expect Wi Fi and what we don't often talk about is these SMBs As well as professional services also have things like printers, cameras, and many other things to worry about, that are all competing for bandwidth at the same time. And if we go in at the moment, we're looking at the back to school season and schools to have Wi Fi for students, faculty, staff, even visiting parents and local government offices, same story. That list goes on and on. So Shaheen, do you have any comparisons between having and not having a cloud managed network for an SMB? Because it's a it's two completely different worlds, isn't it?
Absolutely. So you know, it's interesting that you should bring that up, because over the last decade, plus we've seen a really a significant growth in the needs in the networking needs of small businesses. And it's interesting because while online retailers, as I mentioned earlier, are cutting, cutting into kind of the traditional bar model which is selling hardware at more Plus, at some kind of margin, what we are seeing in parallel in the same timeline is that there's actually been a significant growth in the needs of small business networking itself. So think back to like 2000 and 2008 2009, when the smartphone when the iPhone first came out, and then it was followed by a slew of smartphones and it very rapidly took off, which meant that small businesses, any business lining up Main Street, you know, all the restaurants and cafes and the auto shop garage, garages, the hair salons, nail salons, I mean, you name it laundromats. All of them have a situation where you have a waiting room. And the expectation of the end consumer or the customers to those small businesses is that when they walk in, if they are asked to wait, the expectation is there should be Wi Fi provided by that business. So right away, you have the need for these small businesses to extend their wireless network to provide guests WiFi, which means they have to isolate their internal business, wireless network or an wired network from the guest Wi Fi. So that's a significant level of complex complexity added on to a traditional micro business network. And additionally, you also have many new network devices, even within the smallest of these businesses, right. So security surveillance cameras, often there are network devices within them printers, you brought up printers. That's certainly one. There are others as well. Increasingly, even in manufacturing and small machine shops, you're seeing IoT come into play. So all of those means that that The needs, the networking needs of these small businesses have grown. And which means that there's added complexity and it needs professional help to set it up correctly. And that's an opportunity for our, for our bars to come in and fill that gap. You also mentioned schools and in particular, what's happening now as a result of the pandemic, and, you know, certainly schools are beginning to reopen and kids as well as colleges are all kind of going back. But we know that and hopefully everything will normalise, you know, over the next certainly over the next year, but the point is, are we ever going to go back to the way things were which is, you know, all working exclusively on prem, going to school exclusively on site. By I think in general, the thesis is that we will not be having that kind of clean cut binary situation again, There will be a hybrid model where there will need to be an opportunity for us to work from home for us to be able to school from home, take college level classes, and actually, you know, be part of the university, but still have the ability to do some of my class work from home, which means, again, that there's a need to extend out capabilities. If I'm the IT department of a school, or a school district, I have to really start thinking about the long term vision of how I'm going to provide these capabilities so that students can study from home as well as when they come into class. And it means that you know, there's a lot of work for those IT managers or the msps, who are providing those services to them to think through how they're going to extend not just the the network, but also kind of a secure network. That goes hand in hand, how are they going to extend policies that they've set up for within their classrooms to extend those out to student homes and employee homes?
Thanks, Shay. There's so many great examples there. But I'd love to try and bring it to life a little bit more than we are at the moment. It's in the back to school season. So I'm curious around when it comes to vas, have you encountered any that have become a little bit nervous or scared to make that leap? And do you have any stories or use cases that will just bring that story to life?
One of the stories which pops up in my mind first is a story about a VAR. We have in the Netherlands, who was actually used to sell for years and years, just the hardware to to a school nearby his office. And he kept on doing the maintenance and the installation running cables. And you know, he did all the day to day stuff as well. But the business was basically not moving anywhere. And the only moment he had a contact with the school was When he needed to fix an issue or to get things done in the network, and then we spoke with him about all the business opportunities he would have, if he would move this single school to a managed environment by inside probe by basically changing a little bit of hardware, which is interpro compatible by highlighting all the features he could provide to the school from a security, business continuity, etc, etc. And he gave it a try. And he started that slightly before the COVID-19. And he started by doing that and he started to add all these services to the table and the school started to migrate as well. And then he came fully on board with all the remote functionality and when the when the the pandemic came, basically, he was also immediately able to start managing the offices at home. From the teachers who were at a forced basically to provide elearning to the to the students. And because he was ready just in time for this, let's say, remote management capabilities, he fully embraced it actually quite quick. And by doing that and getting convinced about all the opportunities provided by this ecosystem inside Pro, he started to basically expand the service offering towards this school. And the school liked it so much the way he basically changed the way he managed their network, and also keeping the network secure and safe and up and running, especially throughout this elearning scenario. Throughout the pandemic. Other schools in the region came to him and asked him to also make an offer to add their school site to this management system. So, this is a great example for all of ours that if you just start slowly and step by step, you will get more business opportunity soon.
And Shaheen. For everybody listening, what are the key differentiating factors of Netgear cloud versus others? Because there's, it is a crowded market out there, and a lot of people listening will be bombarded by choice. So what would you say are the main things that set you apart?
Yeah, absolutely. So, you know, the term cloud has been thrown around randomly, and you know, because it's, it's a buzzword. It's become very jargony. But if you look at the true capabilities of cloud, and which are very significant to me, the cloud really provides you infrastructure on demand. So the key differentiator for Netgear insight is the fact that we built inside is its cloud native, which means that it was built from the get go on the cloud, it was architected with the idea of scale with the idea of multi tenancy, it was built with the idea that within a single insight pro account that you could accommodate many customers, and each of those customers could have many locations. And each of those locations could have many devices
across a wired and wireless networks, so it was architected from the get go with that vision in mind, which is very different from a solution where a cloud maybe in some cases, cloud is just a marketing term. But even when a cloud is actually added, it is an afterthought and it's been added typically just as a launcher to launch into what are essentially siloed site specific solutions. And if the The end result is it's a very different experience for our users and our customers on Netgear insight. A customer In warehouse, the ability to if the customer is an MSP, they have the ability within a single pane of glass, a single console, to be able to see across all of their customers, sites, all their different customers, all their different sites, and to see if there are any issues to make sure that everything is up and healthy, and then be able to very quickly and simply be able to drill down into a single customer if there's an issue into a specific network location of that customer, identify the devices that are the root cause of the issue and be able to fix those issues. So it's that level of simplicity and the efficiency of being able to surface up to be able to see that the view across all the customers and then be able to so simply and quickly be able to drill down. This is not possible when you do not Have a solution that was architected for this from the get go. There are of course, a lot of additional advantages, while going deep a level deeper is the way that we have built in so many Automation features. For example, you can centrally configure and manage the devices within your network on the both the wired side with the ability to configure multiple switches in a get in a single go. The the ability to apply policies across ports, and be able to lack ports across all the switches similarly, on the wireline on the wireless side, be able to to create as societies and to deploy them across many APS to apply security and radio policies across all of those access points. So that's that's, you know, an example of unified, unified and set centralised management. Other examples of that is the way that we have schedulers. We have schedulers for Wi Fi, where you you know, for security reasons, you may want to turn down Wi Fi at certain hours. The way we have schedulers for for Power over Ethernet scheduling. Also for firmware updates, where you can schedule firmware updates and insight takes care of it behind the scenes. So all of these Automation Components make make the whole case for that I had brought up earlier, which is to the ability to grow businesses while keeping your team relatively small. And then of course, other differentiated so the fact that we have multi tenancy that's a core differentiator for us we have the concept of different roles. We've also got the concept of of the customised reporting, we have dashboards that highlight certain areas moments and make them bring data up and visualise it. We also have alerts and notifications engine that is very highly configurable. So each user can basically set it up to exactly what their needs are. All of those are key differentiators that we bring both from the big differentiators of having architected it correctly for the cloud, all the way down to some of the features that we've brought in to centralise and to automate a lot of the repeated functions,
and if possible, Sure, I'd love to tackle the elephant in the room, which is why is there still so much fear and suspicion around cloud management? And you're right what you said a few moments ago, because it is a term that's being bandied around a lot, and maybe that's why it is being treated with suspicion in some areas. So how do you think we can address those those kind of challenges?
So it's, yeah, you know, it's strange, but it's so true for humans, right? That anything that we don't understand And usually things that are new that we are unfamiliar with, always create fear and suspicion. Right? And the way to break through any of these scenarios and it certainly applies to cloud is education and awareness building and access. I think that is how you break through fear and suspicion is you know, what is what are the advantages because a cloud has many advantages, right? It allows for infrastructure on demand, which means that you can scale in a way that would not be possible you can scale within, you know, the time compression related to scale and the ease of scale has been compressed so significantly, that's a huge advantage. And certainly, it makes remote access and all of the things that we need that the pandemic has highlighted. It brings the brings the goodness of the cloud really kind of comes to service because it allows you to extend your network into your employees homes to extend the networks into students homes, with ease and simplicity. And that's kind of the advantage of the cloud. So I'm so I am thinking that with this event that we are all living through right now that a lot of this fear and suspicion is going to go away because people are going to begin to see, you know, the power and the advantage of the cloud.
Thanks, Shane and a friend. Do you have any tips on how listeners can go from traditional box selling approach to actually becoming a value added reseller? And also, how is that going to impact consumers?
Actually, the tip is quite simple. For all of the resellers out there thinking, where do I need to start? I would say just start with it. Just start by adding some services to your business offering towards your customers and that does help you With defining the services you can add the best and how to sell that towards your end customers. And by starting, and by learning and by making all these small steps, you will eventually get at a level of being an MSP you would like to be as a reseller. And the good news is, the only thing you have to do is to basically sell the supported hardware to your end customers, we have developed a full back end, we host the platform, we keep it up to date, so you have no costs in advance by setting up your own data centre or whatsoever. The only thing you need to do is just start and you will be live in seconds and we will have your back in case you need it. And by doing that, you can finally add sir add value again to your customers and set yourself apart from the rest
and many SMBs learn this year. The important So having a network infrastructure that supports remote working, it used to be a nice to have. Where's now it's critical. But where do we go from here? What do the next 18 months look like? And what kind of role do you think Netgear will play in the immediate future?
There the opportunities for bars and MSP is going to continue to grow out their businesses really helping their small business customers, be able to meet the challenges of the time, and extend out those small businesses and networks into their employees homes. And what we're going to see post COVID-19, when hopefully everything will be back to normal is that we will still have to be prepared for these scenarios. And also, that a lot of employees have found because they've been doing this for the last year that they can work just as effectively at home. And we'll choose to work part of the time at least out of the time, from home. means that employees will be you know, and mutual agreement between employers and employees. That Yes, as long as you, you are just as productive working from home, it's an opportunity for them to say, okay, you know, you don't have your two hour commute, but it means that I can actually get you to be even more productive, potentially. And for the employee, it's an opportunity to have a little more life work balance. So my guess is that what we are going to see is a hybrid model
around I'm curious, is it anything that personally excites you about the role that technology is going to play in that future?
I would say that for, for for us as Netgear, but definitely also for our resellers that the value added resellers. It's so exciting to always reach out to your customers and explain them about how the latest technology will let it positively impact it. The way they can run and you say that they can run and expand their business opportunities towards the customers. What also excites me is the fact that we keep on adding services and products towards this ecosystem inside pro in order to give capabilities to our resellers to keep on expanding the surface offering
they offer to their customers.
So I'm conscious we've covered a lot of ground today. So for everyone listening, if they do have any questions or want to explore the topics further, what's the best way of finding you online and, and even contacting your team if they've got any questions?
Yeah, so the West The best way to go is just go to our website netgear.com slash insight. There you will find all the information you need, but obviously you can also contact your local sales team.
Thank you so much for joining me on the podcast today. I also For one, I've learned so much more about how cloud managed networks can help businesses grow and also how embracing cloud networking can actually provide businesses with that flexibility that they all need to succeed. And also with remote Wi Fi six technologies thrown into the mix, too. I think Wi Fi six is going to be better than ever before. But more than anything, just a big thank you for joining me on the podcast today.
Thanks. Thanks for having us.
Absolutely. Thank you so much. I cannot
thank Aranda and Shaheen enough for coming on, and sharing how cloud managed networks can help a business grow. And also loved hearing about how Wi Fi six wireless is going to be better than ever. But more than anything, I just loved hearing that very human use case of a VAR that one had to make the step felt very nervous about doing so. Because I think that is something that will resonate with every small business out there and indeed user, but I'm afraid we're out of time already. So that's it for today's episode of switched on thinking. If you enjoyed the podcast, please leave a rating and review And if you enjoyed today's show, join me in another two weeks where we'll further explore how Netgear and its partners are solving the real world networking challenges of today and the future.