Earlier this year, Genband and Sonus announced that they were merging. The deal pitched as a natural coming together of two mutually applicable vendors, saw Sonus’ experience in manufacturing service provider network equipment and software combined with Genband’s gateway and switch business. Both of these companies were involved in the real-time communications field but both saw some very real headwinds coming there way.

While these are two important players in the embedded communications world, the rise of the Internet of Things has created an opportunity for disruption, and the concern on the part of these more traditional players that their comfortable market position might be threatened. A merger was therefore seen as a good way to build the capability, from both the technology and people perspectives, as well as the credible market story.

The baby has a name

The companies are finally announcing that the merger has closed and that the new company will be called Ribbon Communications. While Ribbon is just a name, the new company is keen to ensure that everyone understands why it is emblematic of the new focus of the organizations. As they state:

The name Ribbon reflects the unparalleled suite of real-time communications software solutions that this combination brings to the table. Ribbon is ready to upend the status quo and deliver the flexibility, security and stability that today’s digital world requires, enabling better business outcomes. With the world more complexly woven together than ever before, the real-time communications we rely on must become a more comprehensive, engaging, contextual and all- encompassing experience. That’s why Ribbon is being launched. Born to serve as the real-time communications pivoting point for our lives, Ribbon serves as the connection across all of our worlds.

Wow. Well, it seems that one thing the new company gained is a communications and PR team with a fantastic handle on the worlds of hyperbole and lily-gilding. But, all snark aside, there are some strategic reasons why this new organization will work.

From a geographical perspective, while both companies have a strong customer footprint in the US, Sonus a solid presence in Japan and Genband has a strong presence in the Canada, India, Middle East and the UK.

From a product perspective, more importantly, service providers and enterprises, the customers of these vendors, are accelerating their move away from legacy networks and looking to leverage new ways of doing things – the move to IP and cloud-based networks and the rise of more holistic approaches towards real-time communications means that increasing investment in R&D fueled growth is critical.

We’ve already seen some nascent moves from Genband. Their Kandy Communications Platform as a Service (CPaaS) is aimed at giving customers a far more flexible platform to leverage that covers the myriad of different communications media that exist today – voice, video, messaging, chat, presence – and rather than using those as standalone solutions, to embed them into business processes and applications. Kandy is also seen as a way for customers, in particular, service providers, to leverage a platform to enable new revenue streams.

Ribbon articulates the why of this deal and the synergies that exist, in its briefing materials, saying that:

This transaction creates a global leader in real-time communications and security solutions and the scale necessary to accelerate growth initiatives to help our customers migrate to fully-virtualized cloud architectures. Delivering critical real- time communications means going beyond speed and security to a more comprehensive, engaging, contextual, all- encompassing experience. Embedded real-time communications are helping us become more productive and efficient, but connectivity and security must be tightly threaded in harmony, chain-linking end points with absolute clarity. Our new name reflects this mission and our ambition to continue moving the real-time communications industry forward.

MyPOV

There is no denying that the rise of the IoT, alongside the challenges, that traditional communications vendors are experiencing means that there is both risk and opportunity in the marketplace today. The success of this merger will be predicated on the new company’s ability to really double-down on its pace of innovation – both in terms of technology and the commercial aspects. This could go one of two ways. Either it could be an amalgam of two old-school vendors and the further institutionalizing of traditional models, or it could be seen as a lightning rod moment where both organizations cast off the shackles of traditional models and embrace agility, innovation, and open-ecosystems.

There are no guarantees and the next 12-18 months are going to be very interesting for Ribbon.

Ben Kepes

Ben Kepes is a technology evangelist, an investor, a commentator and a business adviser. Ben covers the convergence of technology, mobile, ubiquity and agility, all enabled by the Cloud. His areas of interest extend to enterprise software, software integration, financial/accounting software, platforms and infrastructure as well as articulating technology simply for everyday users.

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