TalkingHeadz with Chris MacFarland, CEO Masergy

by Dave Michels

In this podcast we ask Chris some tough questions such as why do I need advanced networking when Starbucks has free Wi-Fi and who has better BBQ: Texas or Illinois?

You can follow TalkingHeadz on your favorite podcast app. Interviews with the movers and shakers of enterprise comms twice a month, plus we have good guests!

Interview Transcript

Evan Kirstel 2:49
So in today’s Talking Heads, we have Chris McFarland, Chairman and CEO at macer. g prior experience at paytech. McLeod broadsoft Vario. Literally, a who’s who of the telecom industry. So Chris, welcome.

Chris MacFarland 3:07
Hey, nice to see you. There. Nice to chat with you. And, and Dave today. Yeah,

Evan Kirstel 3:12
likewise. So tell me when I think of Masergy, I think of a service provider, communications provider networking company, security as a service company, and SD LAN provider? How do you describe you? Yeah, no,

Chris MacFarland 3:29
great question. I can tell you that the way that we think about the business, as we’re very much in the managed services, industry, and everything about the company itself, we’re celebrating our 21st year, this year, largely over that 20 year history focused on kind of the large enterprise, more specifically multinational corporations, really, really grew up in the networking services space, with high performance and reliability being a key focus on the technology stack, and then evolve over time into unified communications and cybersecurity. And then when you take a look at kind of the last several years, and when we look ahead, you know, kind of the next decade that we’ve got, we really, really, really see kind of this convergence taking place around communication services. And so now, today, and 2021, we serve businesses of all size, making their journey to the cloud, a simpler process, and more importantly, enabling them to have a robust experience, so that they’ve got flexibility as they move more things to software as a service, or the infrastructure as a service. And we think that the network is as a service model, with SD, Lan, sassy, unified comms, we all kind of see these as hybrid technologies inside of the work space today. So it’s pretty exciting time for us. But happy to be on the podcast today and look forward to the conversation here over the next half hour. So,

Dave Michels 4:50
Chris, you’re really messing up our CEO average. You know, Evan and I talk to a lot of CEOs on this podcast and they’ve typically been in their role for a year. Maybe two years, you’ve been at Masergy. for 13 years, we’ve seen just so much turnover in our industry, you know, eight by eight, manage views, money more, I can’t think of them all. But can you give Evan some tips because he needs some tips on how to hold a job? Well,

Evan Kirstel 5:15
you How dare you, I resemble that.

Chris MacFarland 5:19
Happy, Happy abiti have as many tips as I can. But I’m guessing you guys have figured out a lot of different things in terms of your roadmap to career evolution. And it is true, we’ve seen, I hate to admit it, just shy of 30 years and the broader industry serial entrepreneur, been very fortunate to go through some really, really interesting times in our industry in my early 20s. And what I can tell you is that I got to kind of the the back half of the 2000s, I find myself in a really interesting spot when some of the original venture investors when I joined, it took control and bass review was a venture backed business. And thought about the fact that me and some of my other partners and other businesses, we really wanted to, to do something a little bit different. And so I think the longevity that I’ve had, it basically is one, just being able to find somewhere where I can have a lot of fun, you know, day in and day out. And you know, you can’t have fun every day in a job, no matter who you are. But if you can have like, let’s say there’s 22 normal business days in a month, if 20 of those 22 can be something that you’re excited when you get up in the morning, and you’re getting ready for the day that I consider that success and the culture that we focused on inside of macer G is very, very, very much that I think the other thing that’s been a big part of the company’s success and a little bit my personal success has been the fact that, you know, if you focus on your employees, focus on your customers, build solutions that matter, and then have a different technology stack and a different customer experience stack. You know, you find yourself in a new spot. And then the other thing that’s been really, really helpful is that even though you’re the company’s 21 years old, and we’ve had different Capital Partners in the business, we’ve managed to keep the business private, that’s been really the phenomenon over the last 11 years is that you can create significant value and have value creation occur. Private Equity back world versus being in the public eye. And I think when you look at public businesses, you have much, much shorter windows, if you’re the CEO, prove your value your place. So I think it’s the reason why we see quite a bit more churn. The another reason why you see charges, if somebody does an incredible job, they have wealth creation take place in a really short time period. So they want to kind of hit the eject button. So I can tell you 13 years into this, you know, I’m hopeful that I’ve got at least another decade here, just a little bit shy, 50 years old, and I plan on working pretty hard until I’m into at least my early 60s, if not

Dave Michels 7:50
75. And he says focus on your co host satisfaction. But actually, you’ve talked a lot about the change that’s occurred. And you know, I’m thinking about the past 20 years, I look around my office and a lot has changed. Nothing has changed for you. But But for most of my out, no, no, but I think about Wi Fi is more or less become standard. It wasn’t there 20 years ago or whatever. 25 years ago, the iPhone, of course changed everything a Macintosh changes operating system, Windows 10 is totally different. We’re now phasing out 4g, when 4g is totally still new within some context. So a lot of stuff has changed. But when I look around my office, the one thing that hasn’t changed, besides the picture of heaven on my desk is the 100 megabit per second LAN connection. So So I obviously conclude that nothing’s changed in networks. And so I’m just guessing your primary business is to sell t ones. Is that accurate?

Chris MacFarland 8:45
No, it’s far, so far from the truth that that would definitely not even be last decade. That would be like a decade and a half ago, maybe maybe close to two decades ago. And then I hope that you really don’t have 100 megabit at your your home office or any office that you’re at today. There’s been a huge advancements in networking. So if you take a kind of a longer cycle, and think about the advancements with wireless technology, both the closed systems with things like Wi Fi, or the public systems with 3g and then the transition to 4g and LTE, and now that’s been kind of in this this 5g space, and then the the private license bands will cbrs. And then inside of the corporate campus enterprise, we’ve gone from 100 megabit, two gigabit 10 gigabit 10 gigabit the 40 a bit. And then we have this advent of orchestration around software defined networking, that we really, really pioneered both software defined networking in the late 2000s. And then the analytics and orchestration around it. And then it kind of the 2015 timeframe, we saw this advancing technology around Software Defined wide area network where you could have these dynamic routes for applications and then security just becoming more more central factor and thinking about how secure the network as we think about getting back to the Evans question, we see ourselves as the world’s most advanced secure cloud networking company, with emphasis on cloud communications as well. And then secondarily, when we think about how the world’s changed, just think about how it’s changed during the pandemic. Today, I’m in our corporate office, but I’m working half the time from home, when I’m out on the road 90% of our workforce is virtual. Today, we are 100% virtual. And when we’re back in February of 2020, when I look ahead, even when this pandemic is over, and you know, I think we’re all kind of feeling pretty good at the early stages of the vaccine rollout appears to be pretty encouraging. And that we had to fall, we’ll be into what the new normal kind of looks like and where we enter 2022, where you’ve got this environment where the pandemics largely been eradicated, at least for the first world parts. So North America, Western Europe and the major cities in Asia. But we’re still going to have this environment where people are going to choose to work, especially for knowledge workers, for them to work mostly at home. So to have an environment at your house, that gives you the ability to work as effectively and efficiently as you have in your office, I think is really, really paramount. And so we did a pivot and launched a series of products back in November. So we’re just a few months in, which gives you just a better networking and security experience at your house along with, you know, some unified comms technology that we think is applicable to any knowledge worker, whether you’re in a small medium bar, or very large business that we serve. So we’re pretty excited about that we take the losers through this long term is courses commercial real estate, there’s not going to be the great demands for office space, we’re going to see the workspace kind of evolved to, you know, hotelling and co working space. And then the real challenge has for us as business leaders is how do you manage serendipity? How do you get the right amount of office time, or collaboration time that’s physical versus the virtual world? I think we’re still in the early early stages that but it’s exciting time to be alive. From my perspective. I mean, if you get out of the new cycle, you know, that’s been so horrible for the last several years, all the stuff that’s happened across all the different technology domains is incredibly exciting. And we’re we’re excited to be a component of the critical infrastructure for so many businesses. Yeah, we

Evan Kirstel 12:20
live in interesting times. That’s for sure. So, Chris, let’s talk about the people side of enterprise networking and cloud communications, when are we going to make the life of the typical network engineer or IT administrator easy, or easier than it is today?

Chris MacFarland 12:40
That’s something that we’ve been very focused on for the last six or seven years. And we’re now at a point where we think it’s going to be significantly easier going forward, at least for our customers. But if you think about the shift to DevOps, and then you think about automation, and what we have introduces a concept called an Ops, we’re observing all of your applications, all your network, and then we’re giving you recommendations. We’re kind of in that second generation today, we’re on this path where over the next two to three years, we’re gonna have fully autonomous networks, where the network will be able to self design, self optimize, and self program itself based upon the applications are what the users are doing, which is very different from where we’re at 10 years ago, in fact, we saw the data centers kind of make huge advancements in their ability to optimize and be dynamic in the network. You know, as David said a little bit earlier, there’s been bits and pieces that have been kind of arcane compared to what we saw across applications and server restructure. And I think we’re going to see the network become very, very intelligence. And I think you’re going to see companies like he kind of lead through that.

Evan Kirstel 13:45
That’s exciting. So I look forward to the days of the fully autonomous podcast co host. But enough about Dave Michaels. When I think about the UCAS industry, it’s supposed to make things a lot simpler than they were in the good old PBX days. Is it hard to sell managed services as a concept when cloud delivered, communication services are supposed to be simpler and easier to deploy?

Chris MacFarland 14:09
agree with everything that is said, we’ve seen the world shift from fully outsourced. And that being the moniker for managed services today, I think they’re mostly co managed services, because most of the capabilities and feature sets are coming from the cloud, or the edge of the network. So we see ourselves as delivering most of these things are the edge. And then via portals and API’s is how customers can self manage or co manage their solutions. And I think that will continue to accelerate. And the cloud communications model. The challenge that I think most large businesses or mid market sized businesses is that there’s tremendous amount of complexity that is sitting out there as these technology stacks and these different waves of new technology evolves. And so when I think about cloud communications, you know, there’s still a bunch of enterprises that are running their own IP PBX isn’t there even some that are offices that are still on legacy kind of TDM technology or, or even connecting SIP trunks to legacy kind of technology because everybody’s installed a different generation based upon like their capital depreciation, and other sets of their but the world is moving faster harder. And I think it’s been. I mean, you can look at this the public company data, we’ve seen phenomenal growth and unified comps, I think when you look at the next even decade, we’re going to continue to see very robust growth, these areas will continue to invest in the technology stack.

Dave Michels 15:28
I want to go back to the pandemic you were talking about a minute ago, and pandemic will always be associated with videoconferencing, WebEx, zoom teams, they all did really well. But of course, the unsung hero of the pandemic was the networking companies. Now, in your humble opinion, how did the network industry do? Was it easy? Or was there a lot of duct tape involved?

Chris MacFarland 15:50
I think there was not as much duct tape as a lot of people thought there would be or predicted. I think we saw in North America specifically and in most of Europe, and definitely in Asia. But the network as a broadband level for most cities held up really, really well. I think there was a mad dash by the DEA providers and the broadband providers to shift a lot of resources to different parts of their Metro networks and what they had done historically. But it is they are the unsung heroes, right? Because if you think about the apps that run specifically videoconference apps, right, you saw such a huge growth on zoom and WebEx that all those platforms at different days and weeks and months had challenges keeping up. But the the network itself showed to be incredibly resilient for us. One of the things that we had to do is we had so many people at home, they needed to have secure access back to their corporate enterprises for some of their apps, we saw 1,000% increase in VPN usage across our global VPN platform. And then that’s started to merge to this next function of technology was zero trust networking, for the home user an endpoint depict detection response errors, but it’s, it’s been pretty amazing. I think we’ve proven that there’s the ability to really work from home, which I think is a great thing for society at large. And for businesses of all sizes.

Dave Michels 17:12
Well, let me ask you about that. Because the new TLA is W FA for work for money, where and apparently TMobile failed the TLA class because they call it w f x but doesn’t work from anywhere kind of devalue networks. And I used to have to go to work or the you had to go to the office to get the high quality bandwidth that I needed. Now I can work at Starbucks. So how do you justify the importance of networks today?

Chris MacFarland 17:38
Yeah, so I think there’s a distinction that you have to make, there’s one called work from anywhere, which means you’re at a Starbucks or at a hotel in some other places like that. And you need to have some core capabilities for that to work, okay. But you’re still beholden to the bandwidth that’s there that you’re sharing with everybody else’s, that’s there. So there’s some security and some networking technology and some UCAS capabilities that you need

Dave Michels 18:00
to order the bandwidth and venti size, the

Chris MacFarland 18:03
bandwidth of the app, and then you have to deal with it. What’s the caliber of the people around? How loud is it, the work from home component, I think is a much more impactful area for the majority of us. And that being said, is we saw the democratization of a lot of apps take place before they were in enterprise. If you think about kind of the beginning of the 2000s. With the advent of iPhone, I think you’re seeing the democratization of of the ability to have flexibility in your life in terms of what hours you work during the day. And then secondarily how you engage with the rest of your either your customers, or your your colleagues and coworkers, but have an environment at home. This is robots does what you have when you’re the office, I think we’re at a day and age where it absolutely can happen. And the companies like Mr. G’s gonna allow you to have multiple broadband providers. So that whatever path you need to take to get to your SaaS provider is the best path. And then secondarily, overlay networks that are software defined, or software to find way to order so that you’ve got your security components and your ability to get back to your corporate enterprise. And then more importantly, you know, we haven’t seen as what what most of us don’t have today, right, which you got so many other devices on your network at home, from your multimedia, to your IoT devices, and even your appliances, and your security systems as you need all this stuff to harmonize it to work better than it does today. And so most you know, I’d say 97% of the homes in North America, or even any of the Western world doesn’t have this technology and I think there’s companies like us that’s going to bring much more robust experience so that if you’re, you know, the you or Evan or David if you ever sit at home versus sitting in a corporate location, it should be pretty much the same experiencing from an IT resources standpoint.

Evan Kirstel 19:46
I never want to sit at home with Dave Michaels he’s such a bandwidth on

Dave Michels 19:51
when you say Western world do you mean outside of Texas or just Texas?

Chris MacFarland 19:55
But you know, we are we are a little bit different here in the south, but I’m at the the whole United States The Western Hemisphere, the whole us plus Texas, Dave.

Evan Kirstel 20:04
So SC whan is obviously great for branches for distributed enterprise. If anything where we have maybe too many SDN providers, that’s a separate discussion. But what canon doesn’t do for me as a home user? Maybe you could clarify a bit?

Chris MacFarland 20:20
Yeah, no, no, no, absolutely. So it’s early on. So I don’t know how you know, because you already said the buzzwords around work from anywhere and work from home are definitely out there. But if you’re a knowledge worker, and you’re in sales, or your C level exact, or you’re doing podcasts, right, or you’re doing anything that requires to have this great experience for video and audio, pain, a little bit of money to have a better network experience, because you most people have access to the least wireless a one broadband provider. As 5g becomes more robust in North America, that 5g experience should be almost as good as your broadband experience. But even before that, you usually have the choice of your cable company and or the legacy telco in your area. So for maybe double what you spend today, you could have this dynamic Path Selection, so you know, you’re getting a great experience. And then you can have your different Wi Fi domains, and your local network kind of disaggregated from each other so that you’ve got what they call LAN segregation, segmentation, so that you don’t have things fighting with each other for contention. So this next generation of technology that’s been in the large enterprise for a long time that we’re pushing all the way down to the How many of you think about it, people’s homes today are as complex as a medium size office was six or seven years ago. So pushing this technology down and making it simple for you just take it out of the box, plug it in, and it works, you get simple things that you can do it just like us on, you know, Amazon or any other website that you can think of, is really, really, really important. It’s just reduce that complexity.

Dave Michels 21:57
Well, this is the acronym part of our podcasts that we’ve talked about. You’ve mentioned SaaS software as a service. I haven’t been asking you about SD, wham, tell us about sassy, and how does Masergy fit into this world. Just to clarify, for the listeners, I’m referring to SAS e.

Chris MacFarland 22:13
So it says a security access a service edge. And what we’re really talking about here is a framework of where services are rendered. Right before, most services were sitting on somebody’s desktop, or there was another telecommunications closet, and their appliances sitting in these closets. Now, it’s how much of it’s rented from the cloud. And if you think about having more we’ve been cloud ne said, whether it’s security access to other vendors, been able to make the enterprise much more robust. From a centralized policy standpoint, the secure access servers, edge absolutely, is going to change enterprise Communications at a very fundamental way. So just thinking about the cloud, you know, all your networking functions being delivered from the cloud, versus having all these appliances and on the premises, we absolutely are pioneering in the sector, where we’ve absolutely partnered with a few vendors for certain pieces of technology that we develop certain components ourselves, we think this best of breed their money flows. But think about this before, if you decided that you wanted to have a firewall and all the other components around firewalls, and they wanted to have different brokerage services, and identity management, all those other things, you typically had to wait 30 to 90 days to get started delivered. Then you’re trying all these different appliances put together, then trying to get all the appliances to work with each other. It’s basically like a six month one year project. We can deliver Sassi services today and ours initially standing up across an existing network connection that you have. And then you can choose to change things as you want, just from a simple portal API. So having these functions derived from the cloud, makes a huge difference in the velocity, and the ability to change things and not also haven’t been relegated to, you know, the latest software upgrade. It’s basically the network getting completely cloud in cloud driven versus where we’ve been for the last 40 years of networking.

Evan Kirstel 24:06
Fantastic. So what’s driving growth at macer? g? I mean, what’s hot beyond the weather in Texas in the spring and summer? What products or services are kind of leading the way today?

Chris MacFarland 24:18
Yeah, great question. We do have a few months before it warms up here in the state, great state of Texas. And I can tell you that we’ve had to kind of solution categories that have been growing rapidly one, we talked a little bit about our other managed SD Wham services. It’s our fastest growing solution that we have in the company that businesses literally been nearly doubling on itself every year for a few years. We see the next decade and having ridiculously strong growth, just barely behind that is kind of what we call our unified communications division. It’s been growing at an incredible case both with enabling enterprises for Microsoft Teams, integration posts. The PBX in collaboration and then I think you saw an announcement from us recently, we’re boom getting rid of, you know, kind of our legacy communicator applications or soft clients just having it all be integrated with WebEx, we feel like having a simpler interface for your team’s environment, your video conferencing and your soft client is next generation because we’ve started to see people move away from desk phones to soft clients on their, their cellular phones or on their desktop environments, or even their phenomenal growth in those areas. And then for us, we’ve started to see us start to pivot solely below large enterprise down to kind of mid market, we used to just focus on companies that were literally a billion to 20 billion and ravs. And over the last 18 months, we started focused on businesses that are 100 million to 20 billion in revenues.

Dave Michels 25:50
So Chris, I’ve known Masergy for a long time, and I’ve always associated it with the broadsoft community. You guys were one of the top partners as I recall the early days and that community more or less defined the PBX as a service sector. How do you reflect on those earlier days lovingly or bitterly?

Chris MacFarland 26:06
Oh, very, very, very lovely. I think the interesting thing was because I was involved with a company from almost its, you know, months after it was was founded going all the way back to the late 90s, when, as the Chief Technology Officer at allegiance telecom and met Scott and Mike Tesler through one of their early Venture Partners Bessemer. And what was always interesting to the early days of unified communications, call it the 2000 to 2010 typers. Like you could see you the impact that technology was going to have, but we couldn’t see as How come it was taking so long for people to adopt it. So now looking at over 23 year window. Well, now we are seeing mass adoption, we are seeing companies lean into it. Now the economics make all the sense in the world. You don’t see any signs of it slowing down and you see these robust, you know, businesses now layoffs within the public companies like RingCentral and eBay and it’s just a great time to be in business and think about it. feeling about where you if you guys I know you’ve been in the industry, you know, for a while yourself, the legacy meridians and vias and even though early generations of IP PBX is a Cisco like these things were hard to configure deploy. And then just the maintenance costs were just insane. So having cloud type technologies, drive communications, and now us extending it to not only video conferencing, but API’s and all of the advanced things that allow businesses to serve their customers more efficiently and do it at a cost basis. That’s dramatically so what does historically there’s just a cool place in time to be.

Unknown Speaker 27:44
Yeah, I

Evan Kirstel 27:44
would agree this question may be a bit inside baseball, but many of the BroadSoft partners back in the day were on the first UCAS Magic Quadrant. And now none are due to the way they change the rules. Sorry at Gartner. So what do you what does the community think of that? Yeah. So

Chris MacFarland 28:01
I think there’s a couple interesting things. This is a great question. I have the one, we were one of the ones that were in the budget. Because we were the only I think we still may be one of the only broadsoft platforms that we still 100% self manage. And we’re focused way way up market considering most we’re focused at SMB, after the Cisco acquisition of bras over the Gartner decided to make a decision that if you didn’t own your own software, you weren’t going to be a part of their Magic Quadrant study. I don’t think that’s a fair place to be. But Garner gets to make the rules on their own magic quadrants. There’s no there’s no really fighting that. For me, it’s always been right, can you compete in the marketplace? Can you do it at a at a price point that’s effective. And I think all of the work that Michael did with all the team members and all the partner communities inside abroad, so we’ve demonstrated that for service providers large or small, or even the top 2523 of the top 25 carriers in the world, use that platform, but you can have economics that are compelling and better than trying to have 100% of the technology developed yourself. There’s different ways that you can do it. You guys know this better than me when you think about companies like fuse, and RingCentral. There’s heavy, heavy investments and software capabilities. I do think that if you look at 2010 to 21 2010, you weren’t going to do it on your own, you had to leverage somebody like BroadSoft and BroadSoft was by far, they prove it over time, the greatest platform and yet I’m biased because of the relationship that I had there. But I think when you look at what number of lines and servers today, number of seats in service today, it’s still by far the largest platform out there. But, you know, Cisco has so many different products and services. I think that their integration process and then leveraging and hitting harder on Gartner they could have done a better job there.

Dave Michels 29:50
Yeah, that must have turned your world upside down with the acquisition of BroadSoft. And I know Cisco was initially focused on broad cloud, but they seem to have address that more recently. Now. Focusing on the broad works providers like yourself, I guess was last month you announced Masergy is now all in on WebEx. So I know that Cisco is hosting WebEx. So tell us what you do.

Chris MacFarland 30:14
Yeah. So that’s a great, great question. So WebEx components for video conferencing and teams collaboration absolutely is hosted by Cisco. But the rest of it isn’t, as in our, you know, our Cisco broadworks platform. We’re excited about the announcement, we’re excited, you know, the relationship that we have with Cisco, especially on the unified communicator side is, is very robust, we’re happy with that relationship. We do believe that it’s a differentiator in the marketplace, both with what the capabilities of that client will do, in addition to giving us another way to enable people that are using Microsoft Teams in addition to WebEx teams. So having that flexibility, because when we look forward, for the medium and large enterprise, is 100%, about Microsoft Teams and WebEx teams, I think for this MBA space, that’s 100, true, almost not 100%, but close to it on by zoom. And it’ll be interesting to see these various platforms do get out here over the next decade. But I would never bet against Microsoft or Cisco. And I think zoom is here to stay as well. However, we don’t do anything with zoom.

Dave Michels 31:15
So what about UC one? I assume you were a UC one reseller and provider? What happens to UC one?

Chris MacFarland 31:21
I was not a UC one. I mean, we did a little bit of UC one, but I never have

Dave Michels 31:25
a good riddens Uc. All right, who needs that we

Chris MacFarland 31:27
just never got to what we thought the large enterprise would utilize, right? Everything we do inside of our company is how do we make the technology stack better than our competitors? And then how do we make the customer experience better? dramatically better? It’s one of the reasons why we have such a high net promoter score, and things that just didn’t make sense, large enterprise we’ve never leaned into unless we saw real customer demand.

Evan Kirstel 31:52
Yeah, I love it. When companies in our space talk about NPS, it no one seems to, to use that term anymore, or to use the ideas behind Net Promoter. But it’s an important measurement. And I noticed you talk a lot about reliability, both with WebEx and other solutions. What does that mean, in the IP world? Are we striving for five nines, again, like in the old telco days,

Chris MacFarland 32:18
I chuckle because the the data and I’m a geek, right? I grew up on the technology side of the equation. So sales didn’t come to me as natural as it is for many, many, many other CEOs. But we are passionate about providing solutions that drive outcomes that allow businesses to thrive. And if you’re serving large enterprises, you have to be in excess of five nines of reliability. One of the reasons why we’re so excited about our work from home solution, because it gives you a five nines or greater experience from your house. And so when you think about NPS, performance, reliability, these are the things that are kind of the renewed mission critical infrastructure and communications. These are the things that drives every social interaction, business interaction, and the capabilities to collaborate inside of your business. And so we try to drive to 100% availability. So today, the major g edge network, we guarantee 100%, availability to if the cloud applications, we’re optimizing through our network of solutions, we’ll give you 100% availability to the cloud. As part of our guarantees. I think when you think about what you have on your desktop, you’re the providers of the technology that’s sitting out there. But we can design things much better than our competitors can because of the modularity and the technology components that we have. And that’s something that’s in our DNA. And one of the reasons why we fashioned ourselves to be as good as companies like Apple in terms of product pads, Gene and pricing, versus most of the telecommunications companies are, here’s what we think is best for you take it and here’s the SLS that are binded

Evan Kirstel 33:51
Wow, that’s impressive. 100% reliability, maybe you should get into the energy business in Texas, and there’s some

Dave Michels 33:59

Chris MacFarland 34:02
Yeah, I think, I think we’ll see some different people, right, and the reliability council here in the state of Texas, we’re going to do so.

Evan Kirstel 34:09
So let me ask you about reliability and maintainability provisioning, you know that how ugly back office side of things. I mean, you have multiple applications, you’re delivering through managed services, you have security tools, support. How do you tie that all together through your portal?

Chris MacFarland 34:28
Yeah, great question. So one, it’s about designing for outcomes and letting automation drive automation, where you don’t have humans involved. And then making sure that where you have humans involved that they’re, they’re having to do critical decision tree making. And that’s the reason why even the algorithms that we have in our cyber services, the algorithms that we have, and I ops problems are all designed to replace things that we see just tons of repetition or things where learning can just happen much faster because of a computer model. versus the human intelligence side of the equation. But it’s not easy, right? But we need to make it look easy. So the portal, I would say where we see 80 85% of customer engagements we do see customers leveraging API’s for UCAS network and cyber today, but not to the level of integration that we think we believe we’re going to see here in the next five to 10 years.

Dave Michels 35:24
So if your vision is to build this master portal that addresses all of your services, but yet you offer all your services, all a cart, doesn’t that make your portal kind of just full of a bunch of the space available type of banners?

Chris MacFarland 35:38
Yeah, well, it’s the single pane of glass, right? So the ability to come to a single pane of glass and see your services where they’re at, manage them, co manage them, change policies for security, the network or the unified comms, then to see all the analytics so they can troubleshoot it, or engage with the apps platform where it’s made a series of recommendations. There’s really how we tie everything together. And something that we’re extremely proud of is kind of the really, really robust interface that our customers have with us.

Dave Michels 36:07
I often describe Evan as a single pain in the ass.

Evan Kirstel 36:12
Don’t worry, we’re gonna cut that out. Right, Dave? But um, I heard a new buzzword from you AI ops. Now, it wouldn’t be a podcast if we didn’t talk about AI. But AI ops is kind of a new one. Can you give us some color commentary there?

Unknown Speaker 36:25
Yeah. So

Chris MacFarland 36:26
it’s an emerging industry technology. It’s based upon the fact that you have copson operations in any information technology, company or enterprise. But it’s the ability for a set of algorithms to observe what’s taking place and then give you recommendations. Well, we’ve got serious DNA and is observing all the network flows, application flows and user flows across our networking customers and our cybersecurity customers and our eucast customers. So the ability for us to watch all the applications and tell you how you can optimize that end user experience, or for us to see things that are happening in the network that don’t look like they should be happening, that we can actually make recommendations for you. So it’s really really, really useful technology, because something that would take a network administrator, or UCAS, a PBX administrator, or somebody else that may take anywhere from 45 minutes, a couple hours, there’s a good chance that we have been observing these events, and then making recommendations and it’s happening in seconds versus hours. And so today, we think that we make the lives of our operators and engineers and their it groups, significantly more robust than what our competitors do. Because you got to have all the analytics. And most of our competitors don’t have the analytics, because they haven’t done that over the last 15 years. And now it’s like how do you take the analytics and make enrich the data, and then run it through a series of algorithms, some of it being machine learning algorithms, so that said, they’re watching the enterprise, how the enterprises behave, and then have a prediction models in terms of how do we make this application better? How do we make the MAF score? For this experience? How do we enhance this video experience with this multi part video? And where do we move bandwidth up and down? Where do how do we make things just a much more robust experience? And then how do we optimize costs are the cost of the SAS vendors, the cost of their infrastructure vendors? So this is much much smarter way of making the network, significantly more intelligence for that enterprise and not just generic across all customers. So we’re really excited about this technology.

Dave Michels 38:28
Now, you mentioned Microsoft Teams earlier, if you jumped on the Microsoft direct routing bandwagon or and what do you think of this new thing? They announced this operator Connect?

Chris MacFarland 38:38
Yes, we have jumped on that bandwagon. In fact, I would say maybe a third of our opportunities, and more than half of our existing customers are starting to really, really leverage Microsoft Teams. And so we absolutely see the the pent up demand the applicability. And then we also see customers a different parts of their journey with Microsoft Teams. I mean, if you think about just all three of us on this podcast, we probably have 10 different ways to communicate with each other. In fact, I think I may have seen you guys on even clubhouse, which is a new form. For us to have a way to collaborate with each other. We see teams probably being significant way of getting a lot of the communications infrastructure and enterprise kind of consolidated down and having them having robust outbound dialing an inbound dial in being a part of that component is really, really important. The operator side of it. I’m not deep enough into the details to give you a good answer there.

Dave Michels 39:33
All right, we got to wrap this up. But I got to ask you a real tough question here. I noticed on your website that you feature. Weber as a customer now I’m a big grill smokey kind of guy. And so I love Weber great company, great products, but I have to wonder, being a Texan. how you deal with an Illinois based grilling company. I mean, that must be kind of hard.

Chris MacFarland 39:56
Why there’s a great customer and they are out of the great state of Illinois. But you know, we’re not biased. We love great barbecue, whether it’s on a Trager, The Big Green Egg, or a Weber grill, although we’re a little biased toward whoever’s, you know,

Evan Kirstel 40:09
I think we’re gonna have to take this show on the road and go down to Austin, Dave and, and do some real barbecue down there.

Dave Michels 40:15
Definitely. Have you been in one of those Weber restaurants in Chicago, I hope they survive this pandemic.

Chris MacFarland 40:21
I have. Absolutely.

Dave Michels 40:22
I love those restaurants. I was, if you haven’t not familiar with them, they everything on the menu is cooked on a Weber charcoal grill. And a friend of mine said, you know, they don’t want to go there because they feel like they could do that at home. Well, every kitchen I know, has like a stove and oven. And it’s still like to go out to restaurants. So I think it’s I think it’s a treat to go that place. But Chris, I just want to thank you so much for joining us today. I know you’re really busy and and there’s so much going on in this networking space is exciting to hear your perspective on these things. I wish you the best of luck.

Chris MacFarland 40:52
Thanks, Dave. Great to talk with you and avid.


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