Published: 09/05/2019
Author: Greg Collins

In April 2019, Ribbon Communications held its annual sales and partner conference in Washington, DC.  There were two days of keynotes, breakout sessions, and a solutions showcase. There were over 700 attendees.  This event outlines the strategy and key investments for the company for the next 12 months. For 2019, Ribbon outlined four key areas for growth and development:

  1. SaaS & IP transformation (Kandy CPaaS and UCaaS offerings) plus SBC migration to the cloud.
  2. Enterprise Edge (Edgewater acquisition)
  3. Application Insights & Assurance
  4. Security & Analytics

Eighteen months after the merger of Sonus and GENBAND, and fortified with two acquisitions: Edgewater (August 2018) and Anova Data (February 2019), the Ribbon pushes into new territory: enterprise edge and big data analytics while continuing with core network modernization (virtual- and cloud-based SBCs) and white-label CPaaS and UCaaS (Kandy) offerings.

Robo-calls (aka nuisance calling) and the STIR-SHAKEN solution were also discussed. Implementation of STIR/SHAKEN will requires that TDM interconnects are updated to IP in addition to SBC software and capacity upgrades. Mandated implementation of STIR-SHAKEN has the potential to boost the SBC market in North America over the next couple of years. It will also hasten the migration from SS7 signaling to Diameter, thereby helping to accelerate the diameter signaling controller market.

Strengths & Momentum

  • Balanced and competitive SBC portfolio spanning both enterprise and service provider segments. Strong transcoding and EVS offerings. There is a lot of potential in the enterprise segment as voice communications moves to the cloud and as Microsoft Teams now allows for direct routing of SIP traffic. The migration to VoLTE is still in the early stage in many regions which should only accelerate with 5G.
  • Good momentum and increasingly rich UCaaS and CPaaS (Kandy) product offerings, channel for Kandy continues to build
  • Ribbon Protect is a unique product offering that addresses end-to-end voice security
  • Large installed base of legacy TDM equipment that can potentially be upgraded to IP due to STIR-SHAKEN mandates.

Key Questions & Challenges

  • Ribbon’s white-label UCaaS and CPaaS strategy relies on the service provider channel, which often does not move as fast as OTT and enterprises directly. Moreover, they are also competing against large, branded offerings, competitors like Twilio and Nexmo (Vonage).
  • Can Ribbon grow the Edgewater product line from a voice-centric customer premises product to a more SD-WAN service offering? They will face increasing competition from specialty SD-WAN vendors as well as larger IT vendors that offer comprehensive SD-WAN solutions. Again, partnering (similar to the partnership with 128 Technologies) will be key as Ribbon can provide a leading voice component to a larger SD-WAN solution.
  • Analytics: Certainly having the additional analytics expertise will help Ribbon’s existing security and services offerings. But, as Ribbon looks to expand into the larger, big data analytics automation, and orchestration markets will an add-on solution from a smaller vendor succeed? In these markets Ribbon will face larger, incumbents such as: larger telecom equipment (Ericsson, Nokia, Huawei), billing and charging firms (NetCracker, Amdocs), and IT vendors (IBM, Accenture). Courting large mobile operators and competing against these larger firms is often an long-term and expensive endeavor that can quickly drain development (through feature customization), and service and support resources.

In all, a great, professional event that presented strong near-term opportunities for growth and a longer-term vision for the future.

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