Wednesday, November 30, 2011

ADTRAN Connect - Day 1 - Takeaways, Photos and the Bicycle That Saved the World

ADTRAN Connect 2011 has gone pretty much to plan so far. Day 1 had a balanced mix of updates from execs, deeper dives on enterprise and carrier offerings, and candid realities from customers. Being a public company, it's not hard to find evidence of success, and we heard our share of metrics to validate their growth story.

It's always good to hear about companies doing well in this space, and having been to several vendor events recently, they're not the only vendor struggling to get more brand recognition. Technology always has this delicate balance to manage between complexity and delivering benefits that people can articulate, and it's not easy to do both.

I'll keep this short and simply say that ADTRAN is doing a lot of things right, and if you follow the twitter feed (#adtranconnect), you'll get a richer sense of that. ADTRAN also has its share of challenges, and aside from becoming more of a household name, they need to keep building their channel, as this is their main route to market. Carriers are a major part of their business, not just for their own infrastructure, but as a channel to the enterprise market.

Hosted is definitely a strong storyline here, and that's good news for their platform partners - BroadSoft and Metaswitch. There's a good wireless story happening around their acquisition of Bluesocket, and ADTRAN looks to be on the right path here with wireless LAN. We also got a good update on their cloud initiatives, so they do have a longer-term plan to evolve beyond hardware.

We're hearing some messaging around UC, but for ADTRAN, it's more about the infrastructure than the applications. However, it's an important part of their value proposition, and there is good momentum building around both hosted and premise-based solutions. Conversely, we're not hearing much about video or social media, but that's ok. They know their market pretty well, and clearly these pieces are not must-haves for everybody right this minute. As those needs evolve, I have no doubt that ADTRAN will find a way to keep pace.

Gary Bolton along with Rick Schansman and Jay Wilson

CEO Tom Stanton

Kevin Morgan and two rural carrier customers - Valley Telecom and Consolidated Companies

They have their share of patents, so innovation definitely lives here.

It's not hard to see why people hardly ever leave here.

Before our sessions, we had a tour on Tuesday night at the famed U.S. Space and Rocket Center. If you like rockets and space travel, this place is for you - and you have no idea why Huntsville is one of the top tech hubs in America, this is a good place to start.

So, did this bicycle save the world? Well, maybe. All I'm going to say is that without it, there may not have been the Saturn rocket, Apollo missions, the Space Shuttle, the Russians would probably have won the space race, and the Berlin Wall just might still be standing. If that doesn't pique your interest, I don't know what will. There's definitely a Hollywood movie to be made here, and I'm up for writing the screenplay. Until then, let your imagination roam and do your own research. Then give me a call!

They sure don't build rockets like they used to. You really have to be there to get a sense of scale and mass for what a full-sized Saturn V rocket looks like. I posted more photos during our first visit there in 2009, so here's the link if you want my first impressions.

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