October 20, 2016
We recently caught up with industry veteran Ronny Haraldsvik who joined KodaCloud, an emerging cloud/managed network services company, as senior vice president and chief marketing officer in August of this year. Previously, he was with SpiderCloud Wireless, BelAir Networks, Flarion and Qualcomm.
Haraldsvik shared his views about his new company and on artificial intelligence (AI), cloud communications and their role in the evolution of Wi-Fi in the enterprise.
In the past, you have promoted the importance of small-cells-as-a-service and the need for managed services in the enterprise. Is there a connection to your work with KodaCloud?
Yes, very much so. The transition from capex to opex has been going on for a while. It started with Software as a Service (SaaS) and the move to Network as a Service is a quiet revolution that’s underway. The great majority of enterprises want managed services. In excess of 60 percent want both small cells-as-a-service and Wi-Fi-as-a-service. Most enterprises have Gig Ethernet connectivity, which means you can put services further and further away from the actual physical network using the cloud with the benefit of low latency access. With the cloud, you can have one enterprise with 20-30 or more locations and benefit from one network view to them all.
What trends are you following in cloud communications?
SaaS has been under way from some time and it is a multi-billion-dollar industry. Networks are becoming a service, and that’s where we come in. More and more network services are being pushed out from the cloud. Whether it is small cells or Wi-Fi, you need a physical presence with access points or maybe a small controller in some cases, but everything else can sit back in the cloud.
NaaS plus SaaS will become a $100 billion services industry in a short time. With 27 million small businesses in the United States alone, and 60 percent of them wanting managed services, that’s a recurring revenue business opportunity of more than $50 billion a year.
What is your product at KodaCloud?
We provide artificial intelligence-driven Wi-Fi as a cloud service, which includes the access point hardware and software, refreshes, proactive administration and troubleshooting, analytics, mobile apps, support and a 24×7 network operating center for escalations – all for a monthly price that translates to roughly $25 per access point. Keep in mind, there’s NO capex. Enterprise research shows that its costs them roughly $27-30 per month just to manage Wi-Fi. With us, the Capex goes away and on top of that, you get Wi-Fi as a service with proactive network monitoring that’s powered by machine learning and AI.
KodaCloud APs are enterprise-grade, featuring 2×2 802.11ac with speeds of 867 Mbps in 5 Ghz and 600 Mbps in 2.4 Ghz. The APs include software that automatically chooses the best frequencies, cell size, channels and access point for the best user experience.
Who are your customers?
We partner with managed service providers (MSP), IT outsourcers, resellers and technology resellers to provide small and medium size enterprise customers with our AI-driven Cloud Service Wi-Fi. In fact, we just signed our 100th managed services partner. We are focused more on the small and medium size businesses and smaller hospitals, but there is no reason the product won’t work in larger enterprises and enterprises with many distributed and smaller offices. It depends on where our clients want to focus.
When one of our partners makes a sale, we ship the equipment directly to the customer. They do not have to keep an inventory. That’s a big margin plus for the MSP. With us, they stand to make 50-80% margins and recurring revenues every month.
Managed services are the outsourcing of enterprise system management, usually information technology. Is there a wireless play?
Wireless systems integrators are indeed migrating to become managed services providers. If you have a network operating center, you are an MSP. In the last two months alone, we have been approached by DAS and small cell integrators that have, up until now, not contemplated including Wi-Fi as part of their offering because it has been too difficult to manage location by location. We have also been approached by mobile operators.
How does Wi-Fi benefit from artificial intelligence technology?
The AI system captures key performance indicators and tweaks configurations according to hundreds of pre-set rules. The system then learns the local environment and incorporates global learning to adjust the rules over time.
With the very proactive, machine-learning artificial intelligence, you can set the parameters to look for issues with devices, connectivity and propagation. All the things that it would take a dedicated IT person to handle to keep the system running. We do this based on policy settings and, based on what it finds, it sets new settings and applies new policies based on learning and shares the local information with the global network. That is where the proactive monitoring, optimization and active troubleshooting of the network comes in. Local learning benefits the global network.