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Reseller spotlight: Nexion on SD-WAN and rapid expansion

By Patrick Martlew
Fri 15 Dec 2017
FYI, this story is more than a year old

Perth-based IT telecommunications reseller Nexion has been kicking a few goals over the past year.

Signed to Exclusive Networks in A/NZ, the company has recently expanded to Singapore and Sydney and has developed high-profile enterprise clients from around the world, believing themselves to be a smaller reseller that can take on much larger telecommunications companies.

It has achieved this while having a team of 10 people, and a client list of only 25.

We sat down with Nexion managing director Paul Glass to talk about how they’ve leveraged their partnerships to gain global traction.

Why did Nexion originally decide to enter the market, and where do you see yourselves currently situated?

Nexion came into the market to provide enterprise organisations with the ability to deal with one solutions providers across their entire communications stack. Personally, I don’t see the difference between a professional IT company and a telco company, I think they need to be one. Nexion fulfils this idea, as it is the combination of a standard telco and a traditional IT company, so that provides an edge-to-edge service for customers, and that was Nexion’s overall aim when it first came into the market.

We also didn’t start this company to deal with SME, as we have always been very focused on the enterprise space. We wanted to build small, unique and active enterprise communications company that was able to shift and move as quickly as the technology demands.

The concept behind what we’re doing is based around a ‘flip-effect’, in that the services that we provide would only usually be offered by a big telco. I understand that’s a big ask, but and the end of the day, it’s true.

Do you see that as your biggest differentiator? The fact that you’re a small reseller serving large clients?

Absolutely. I think with a lot of companies, they might either be very strong in IT or in enterprise comms, but it’s very difficult to find a company that great at both. Fundamentally we’re a global networking company, as we’ve got locations in Perth, Sydney and Singapore, and we have a partnership with Aryaka on our global SD-WAN service.

On that service, we provide SD-WAN services to 65 countries, and there’s 10 of us, which might raise questions about how that’s possible, but that’s part of the technology behind SD-WAN. It’s about pushing information up to the cloud as opposed to building flat, heavy and expensive layered networks.

For argument's sake, we might sell an SD-WAN between London, Sydney and Canada, but we wouldn’t stop there. We’d go to the client and talk about their entire end-to-end infrastructure, which is a normal type of conversation that you’d be having with providers but instead of having those discussions with three different companies, you’re having them with one.

You have experienced a lot of growth on that SD-WAN side, why do you see increasing value in that market within A/NZ?

There is a definite shift in global technologies that are serving to enable SD-WAN, and it’s positioned now where it’s ready for implementation. With SD-WAN, you’re building the brains of the network on software as opposed to a layered MPLS. Five years ago, the vendors weren’t there to build SD-WAN, and they weren’t there to really secure steady implementations of the service.

Why it’s taking off now, is because there is a range of development from vendors in profiling, security, applications and cloud-ready software, which is not only making SD-WAN a high-performance network, it’s also making it secure, reliable and intelligent.

SD-WAN is going to replace MPLS, but it’s vendors like Fortinet, who we’ve partnered with, that are truly providing the platform for innovation in that area.

Are there any other areas on the technology side in which you are seeing massive growth?

Our partnership with Fortinet on the security has been important in delivering that edge-to-edge fabric design, which has definitely - by far - been our biggest growth point.

I’d like to think we use Fortinet slightly differently when compared to other channels. We don’t see Fortinet as isolated products, but a combination of multiple products that allow us to accelerate our network and drive growth.

There’s a number of reasons why I believe that the partnership with Fortinet will be a core aspect of our future growth. Although primarily, it’s because we are a small company and we aim to remain that way. You don’t need to have a large company to provide a broad range of services, you just have to have the right people and technologies.

For us, our biggest growth heading into 2018 is going to be through the enterprise space, which is challenging for a small company, but it’s made easier with vendors like Fortinet. I know that if I want to deploy a global SD-WAN solution with Fortinet in Canada, my customer can pick up the phone and call Fortinet in Canada and get support. That’s a big help because we’re not an MSP, we’re an IT telecommunications company.

What are the challenges related to being a smaller reseller that caters to the big end of town, and how do you mitigate them?

There are tonnes of challenges there. Something that is really important is developing the right relationships, and we’ve been doing pretty well in doing that so far. You can’t just wake up one morning and decide that you’re going to go after the enterprise market in Australia. My previous experience allowed me to work with all of the global vendors and travel the world to start building relationships in the enterprise space, so that proved very useful.

Another challenge is around trying to communicate the idea to large companies that they don’t need to work with a large telco and a bunch of other companies individually. The core offering can be found through our services, and we invest a considerable amount of time in our customers, putting forward something that will really complete their edge-to-edge.

Now, it is really starting to get through, and I must be honest that without Fortinet it would have much more difficult. When Fortinet and our distributor Exclusive Networks talk about us with clients you can hear their passion in what we do, and that really resonates well with the enterprise guys.

Enterprise customers are sick of talking to telcos, they’re sick of telcos taking three months to get metric solutions back. That’s not what these enterprises want, they need to be different, quick and responsive because they’ve got other things to worry about. They need to get to the cloud quickly, securely and reliably and they want to get information from one place to another in the quickest, shortest and most secure way, that’s all they want.

Our partners allow us to deliver outcomes globally, while only managing the core of our business and really delivering a degree of focus and engagement for our customers. I think you really need to think about your offering as a complete ecosystem. If you’re a traditional voice company and all you do is voice, I think business is going to be tough for you in five years time and that’s the same if you’re a traditional IT company.

A challenge we had at the beginning was around trying to find our business model, and how we were going to be different. A big part of that is that we only deal with 25 customers for now, and I’d rather have 25 customers spending $150,000 a month than to have 100 customers spending much less.

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