HITT Series Videos

HITT- Advanced Networking Training Highlights- May 28, 2024

May 30, 2024


Introduction to Advanced Networking Training

We begin with this week’s HIT training today focused on advanced networking.

Connectivity hasn’t gone away. In fact, the absolute dependency on it has increased and become more complex and, of course, still tremendously profitable for your practice.

Presenting today is Telarus VP for advanced networking and mobility, Graham Scott, along with featured industry experts from CommandLink, including CRO Mason Miles, sales VP Nick Madsen, and VP of customer success management and Telarus alum, Kelly Hoyle. Graham and all, welcome back to the Tuesday call. How y’all doing?


Discussion on Advanced Networks and Industry Experts

Yeah. Good morning, Doug. Thanks, so much for having us, on again. It’s great to be with you back to back weeks.

I mean, it’s, it’s quite a treat. Right? So, thank you everybody who joined. I hope you guys had a great long weekend and are approaching, the rest of the week here with, a little bit of renewed vigor.

So, yeah, today, we’re gonna go, talk a little bit about advanced networks and, what what, you know, what’s going on there. So, if you wanna go ahead and advance to the next slide. I think when we start these conversations, it’s really clear that the demands on the network have changed. You’re probably hearing the same thing from your customers as you’re out in the field.

And these are some of the examples of some of the things that are going on. Right? Multiple circuits, multiple sites, and so your customers are challenge having a challenge managing the policies and pass, secure communication between sites. Right?

We’ve got a lot of things going on there.

One of the big trends we’re seeing in in network is, heavy cloud app utilization. So a lot going on there with voice and cloud providers. And then, of course, a remote workforce. Right?


Evolution and Challenges of Network Demands

There’s less people in an office and you need access to those resources outside of the office very easily. So it’s very clear that the conversation around network has changed, which is why we developed this practice that we’re calling advanced networks. So today, we’re gonna go through and we’re gonna break down a deal that we had. And if you guys missed the, first session where we did this with Comcast, as Doug said, all of those recordings are available in the back office, so go check it out.

But we’re gonna talk about a situation where, you you know, customer came in and was having some network challenges, and one of our providers came in there, and we’re able to solve those solutions for them. So if you wanna go to the next slide there, Chandler.


Defining Advanced Networks

So before we go into that, again, what is an advanced network? So what are we defining as an advanced network? Well, it’s really basically anything over a single circuit at a single site. So think multi site, multi product, so things like multiple locations across multiple states, global networks, local management, or remote management.

Those are all aspects that we’re looking at when we call it an advanced network. And then, of course, multiproducts. You’ve got a lot of things going on, maybe multiple sources of connectivity, fiber broadband or four five g, SD WAN, SASE, a lot of these kind of products involved. So those are what we call an advanced network.

So go ahead and move to the next slide there, Chandler.


Customer Requirements for Network Performance

So before we dive in and get our, case study here with CommandLink, here’s sort of the five categories that I’ve broken out for what customers are requiring from their network today. So number one, obviously, they’re looking for performance. Right? The network has to work.

It has it was built for a purpose, and it has to perform that purpose. So it has to work. It has to be on. And then there’s this sort of delineation between walk versus run.

Like, can it do it at this speed or this speed? Right? We want it to go a lot faster. And you can go ahead and advance the next one there, Chandler.

Second part of that is, of course, hey, k. So it works, but we wanna make sure that it works all the time. The best ability is availability. Right?

If that network works, but it’s not on when we need it, then that’s a problem. So multiple pass and redundancy, these are elements that we bring into advanced network. So let’s move to the third one.

This one here, I think, is, we’re gonna talk about in a few minutes with command link, and this is one of the big changes. So visibility on the network. Right? The first two components I think we’ve seen for a while, performance and reliability, but things are changing as far as what the customer wants to see.

They want to know what’s going on on the network at all times. They wanna know who is on the network, and they wanna know what they’re doing. Obviously, you’ve got a lot of risks with security and those kinds of things. It’s very important to understand what’s going on the network, who’s on it, what resources are they’re using, and of course, the last point there, Chandler, if you wanna go ahead and advance it, optimization.

So the network, because it has to work, because it has to be on, we’ve got this balance that we have to have between performance and those elements we talked about and cost. So we wanna make sure that we’re optimizing our network spend, optimizing the tools we’re using, and making sure that we’re providing efficiency.

And managing different vendors and products can often be a challenge with that. So that’s one of the things we’re gonna talk about here with CommandLink. So I’m gonna go ahead and open it up and bring on our guests, Mason, Nick, and Kelly to talk through a case study that we had with CommandLink. So guys, welcome to the call.


Engagement with CommandLink and Customer Situation

Let’s talk about this situation. So you guys came in to a situation that was kind of a mess. The partner reached out to you, engaged you guys, and said, hey. I’ve got this client.

We’ve got some SD WAN in place. So they’re looking at those elements that I just talked about, but it wasn’t going well. So, Mason, why don’t you sort of talk about that and take it from there?


Customer Engagement and SD WAN Challenges

Yeah. We’ve had a lot of engagements where our customers are on their first iteration of SD WAN or coming off of it in game planning for what they’re gonna do to optimize on the next round. And Manly is a company that that asserts that the management experience that’s wrapped around an SD WAN or SaaS deployment is, in many ways, as important as the technology to be deployed itself. This is a a multibillion dollar company with about eighty locations. They were having management prop problems, configuration changes take taking days.

They actually didn’t even have access to their SD WAN orchestration, so they they’re lacking the visibility of what the network is doing, have to rely on the partner to grab that. And that’s actually more common than you would you’d be surprised how often we see that.

And I think just in general, the support was lacking. You know? Tickets were taking way too long. Escalations were common.

We actually it was kind of a interesting way that we engage. We sent the partner a three minute video teaser of how the CommandLink IT service management software platform works together in concert with our NOC support, which is exclusively through dedicated tier three engineer support pods. And that gained us our first discovery in engineering session, and it led into about a one year sales cycle.


CommandLink’s IT Service Management and Support

Yeah. And I think that’s the important point there is is you talked about this this tool set that you guys operate. You know, when I go through those lists of requirements and those lists of demands on the network, you’ve got an IT staff that is trying to tackle that, and they’re very, very strained with their resources. Like, you know, as we ask more of the network, of course, the people that are managing and implementing that network within your organization are also being tasked. And, that’s a that’s a whole lot that they’re putting on their plate that they maybe hadn’t before. So talk a little bit about the tool set and how you guys help with that.

Yeah. So for almost fifteen years, we’ve been building an IT service management software platform. For those of you, you know, that that know our leadership team, we previously are the leadership team of a company called Telnest, which was a Telarus fan favorite, and that’s really where the software platform started to be developed.

Fast forward a few years, we reconvened in two thousand eighteen.

And what what this platform delivers to to customers is a single role and permission based login where customers can log in and see not just circuit performance or the SD WAN orchestration.

We’re collapsing more and more of the IT stack wrapped around with inventory management, proprietary monitoring with omnichannel incident alerting and automation of ticket creation to give more visibility and time back to IT where we see what’s going on, we notify IT, and then we have the ability to jump in responsibly with every ticket going to a tier three engineer who they know, who knows their environment, and can technically handle with ten minute or less SLA for engagement and and acknowledgment of every ticket.

Yeah. That’s awesome stuff. And I think that, you know, support pod model that you guys have is definitely, is definitely, you know, unique in the space at least from what what I’ve seen. So let’s kinda back up a little bit here and talk about the customer and the engagement.


Customer Engagement Process and Teaser Video

So you sent them a teaser video. You were brought in first off, you were brought in by a partner, right, who said, hey. Look. I’ve got this situation.

It’s a bit of a mess. Can you help me? You said, great. A customer engagement started with this teaser video, and then what happened after that?

Like, what were the next steps that you walked through with the customer?

Yeah. We had we had a a number of meetings. We had, you know, design engineering that was going through an evaluation of which of the three global SaaS platforms we deploy was the right fit.

We actually did have an on-site visit, and they did have contract end dates that were preventing them from moving forward at the time.

The then the actual buying process began.

IT procurement actually forced an RFP where a competing partner was brought in.

The competing partner actually brought in about six to eight different vendors. And to our partner’s credit, they were all in with CommandLink. They still saw us as the right fit. We are actually able to influence the RFP specification by getting things like, ten minute or less engagement from an engineer, one hundred percent uptime for every branch, one hour configuration changes, single pane of glass management. So that actually set us up very well for the RFP.

Awesome. And I think, you know, one thing that’s important to note here that we’ve talked about is is this is a large opportunity, massive, eighty global locations.

And I know this isn’t the kind of thing that comes across a partner’s desk every day, but the process that you guys use for engagement is the same regardless of the size of the customer. Right?

We have one path for a customer. I I’ve in my past life working for aggregators, I’ve had one path for the average customer. Another, maybe they’re big enough. They can bypass tier one and go to tier two. But that’s just not a very good way to I mean, tickets are still going into a queue. That’s just not a very good way to treat a ten thousand dollar customer. And so we’ve perfected the single path where it’s dedicated support across the entire journey with a command pod being the NOC structure for every customer.


Overview of CommandLink Platform and Customer Engagement

Yeah. Perfect. So let’s let’s look a little bit under the hood here at the command link platform. So I think we’ve got some, additional slides here that show a little bit of the action.

Why don’t you walk us through? Because this is really kinda where the rubber meets the road. And when I was talking about visualization and the ability for customers to see what’s going on on their network and optimize those resources, this is kind of the tool that they’re looking for. Right?

This kind of thing. So talk us through this.

Yeah. So we’re really the the the genesis of a service provider stack also with the software monitoring platform similar to a ConnectWise and Ava, CappagerDuty.

So we have the tools that for a customer that can’t afford to go out and buy SolarWinds or the like, they can leverage our platform for that. And for customers that are larger like this one, we’re actually talking about deep custom integrations between everything available in our platform, sending APIs to their ServiceNow and to a SolarWinds instance where our service inventory management comes that becomes the source of truth and we become essentially the hub across an enterprise customer’s different applications that they have deep deep investments to. So there’s a lot of ways this platform can benefit, depending on the customer size and other monitoring tools they may or may not have in place.

Yeah. Good stuff. And I think this these kinds of tools are really where the space is going. I think, you know, you guys were one of the first ones that I saw that had a wise up as well and start to launch some of these things. Just so many different things you can do with it.

So many, you know, really kinda makes that IT staff, their efforts, and their work so much easier, and I think that’s really great. So you guys sat down with the customer. You guys had a conversation. You showed them the the, you know, the wiring, the plumbing, all the good stuff that you guys are doing. What happened next?


RFP Closure and Emergency Rescue Situation

Well, RFP was closed.

The customer had a CEO, led event when the incumbent took down all of their locations due to human error on their controllers.

That led into an acceleration.

The transaction became an emergency rescue. And within one week of that event, we were contracted, beginning a POC, which lasted less than a week.

You know, the design engineering leading into a two location deployment that we did in about three days.

They they knew we were the right partner right from the start, and we began the deployment and did the the entire project about eighty locations, primary DIA, backup, secondary DIA, tertiary wireless of some kind plus.

This customer actually did choose our Versa product with full SD WANs and security.

And we have the the vast majority of the network deployed in about four months.

Yeah. That’s awesome. Now that’s not obviously typical. You guys had sort of an emergency situation there where they wanted to get off of their, current provider ASAP.


Typical Deployment Process

Walk us through something that’s maybe a little more typical. Right? Like, what is it what does a typical deployment look like?

Yeah. This I mean, they have a good IT staff and and things like that, but most customers were moving at their pace. And we’re experts at coming into an existing environment, making sure all locations can talk to each other.

You know, business con continues as we go through a more comfortable, migration. And CommandLink’s project management, our design engineering capability is is a central level, and every every deployment for CommandLink is a is a bespoke deployment plan depending on the needs of the customer.

Yeah. And talk about the partner engagement there, because you guys are partner only. Right? You guys are a partner only organization, just work through partners. So how involved is the partner during that phase during that project management phase?


Partner Engagement and Project Management

It this one was this one was pretty active, but that varies greatly by the partner. And our commitment to a partner is they can they can transact with CommandLink, and they should not have to project manage our project managers, that our engineers will be proactive and and consultative, and that we’ll drive a deployment plan while keeping the partner up to date. And that’s just a testament to Kim Seibert, our VP of service delivery, and her amazing team of project managers that our bar is to overcommunicate and deployments are ran out of our software, not out of Outlook and spreadsheets where humans can break down. And, you know, I I always like to tell partners so they can see a difference with our service delivery starting from the kickoff call forward regardless of if that’s a big network deal or just a couple circuits, you know, on an an initial engagement. So we definitely have a differentiated experience with service delivery.

Yeah. I think a lot of partners on this call probably loved hearing you don’t have to project manage our project managers. Right? I think that’s, something a lot of them, get engaged with quite often.

And, alright. Cool. So we’ve we’ve sold the deal. The customer, is is in love with the platform.


Implementation and Post-Implementation Support

You guys start the implementation.

Everything’s been going great. Let’s bring in Kelly here now to talk a little bit about what it looks like after the fact. Because I think, you know, as partners and on on this call, yeah, we love to sell it on the front end. That’s great, everything. But we don’t wanna be getting those calls after the fact that, a customer is not happy with what we’ve sold. So, Kelly, why don’t you talk us through the sort of support model that you guys implement?

Mason touched on it a little bit, obviously, but go into a little more depth on that support pod model and how that’s different than what other folks are doing.

Yeah. So from a command pod perspective, kinda at the heart of command, like, we wanna give people dedicated resources. So that command pod is consists of dedicated tier three engineers that work with the customer on a day in and day out basis. So those customers get to know those engineers.

They get to know the environment, and they work really closely together with those command pod engineers.

What what we don’t ever want a customer to have to do is hit a one eight hundred number where they then go through an auto attendant. They’re sitting on hold, and then they have to go through an escalation process to get to that engineer. We wanna get that customer directly to that tier three engineer immediately within less than ten minutes so that they can start to resolve the issue. So we know that anytime a customer is down, it’s, detrimental to their business.

Yeah. That’s good. And I think eliminating that whole time and doing that, I mean, that is one of the biggest frustrations that we hear from our customers. So what else can you tell us a little bit about the support model? Like, how how is it this different than what other people are are doing?

So, I mean, just from a support engineer perspective, we’re getting people to the fastest resource that can help them solve their issues and and ultimately have the most, I guess you could say, supportive network out there. Another thing that, you know, we are doing is wrapping around dedicated customer success managers that layer in right with the command pod engineer. So we can ensure that the customer’s getting the right experience, that they’re you know, from a customer success standpoint, we know that they’re satisfied with their solution. We know that there’s not a breakdown in that solution, and we’re constantly staying engaged with that customer to make sure that they’re getting what they contracted for and then what we sold them.

And the beauty of this, your your software, right, is that a lot of times, these are these issues are known before they happen.

Right? You guys are already on it. You guys have already seen what’s going on and are addressing the problems that are happening. Right? That’s the benefit of the platform.


I mean, we’re monitoring every single circuit. We know exactly when a circuit goes down. If it goes down for a period of time, we’re notifying the customer that we’re seeing an issue and to immediately engage with our engineers, to to resolve it. So we wanna be on the front side, not on the reactive side of trying to, you know, fix an issue that’s already been a problem for a period of time.

Yeah. Okay. That’s I mean, I like that. And I think, you know, this is a good example of how the the way customers are seeing their network, what they want out of it, what they needed to do, and and just, like, I think it’s just a different approach to this and really kind of a a cool way of of doing something that we’ve been doing for a long time, just doing it a little bit differently, and I think that’s great. So let’s bring things back over to to Mason and Nick.


Engaging Customers

Custom you know, when our partners are out there talking to customers, give us some questions.

Give us some things that they can use to engage with their customers to find out if there’s a good fit for CommandLink in their opportunities.

I would say think of us as a Swiss army knife in our flexibility. You know, we are not gonna be a fit for a single location customer. We, you know, our support models are more expensive than our our competition.

And so we do have a very low it’s a low bar, but we do have a bar from a a revenue minimum Let’s just call it, you know, five locations or more. You have a customer. I’d start asking questions around what their management looks like. Do they have, you know, visibility, not just into uptime, but around service performance?

Our platform integrates services not provided by command link, and I’m just not just current connectivity, but potentially manage services, switching access points, you know, more and more of the IT stack. And that feeds into the next slide. You know, we are just for five years or six years, we’ve been selling everything every customer on CommandLink base. We are weeks away from launching CommandLink Pro where we have software tools get that can be sold to any customer regardless of their network service provider stack, term date.

And and we do commission our partners based on software. So we have a number of different ways that can be that can engage a customer initially, whether it’s software. Maybe they need a couple connections now. Maybe they wanna look at SD WAN or SaaSy where where we have three options available.

There’s a lot of ways for us to engage, and, you know, we’re we’re definitely a company that will do very well with whatever we start with where organically that customer will want to bring us more.

So, yeah, just let let’s just kind of repeat that again. So although CommandLink can and will source the underlying circuits for the network, you don’t have to. Right? You can come in and take over an existing network and kind of bring that layer of management and visualization visibility over the top. Right?

Yep. And I see some of the questions in the in the chat. So connections will manage and and will monitor and even manage third party vendor source circuits.

We’re integrating a expanding library of switch and AP.

For SD WAN or SASE, it has to be one of the three that we that we’ve managed, but that’s Fortinet, Versa, and Cato.

And with CommandLink Pro, we’re able to monitor any service in the IT stack regardless of what that manufacturer is. So a number of ways to use us. I’d highly encourage you to reach out to your my my command lead channel management team. We have I have about forty people across the country, and see a demo. Get a get a strategic call.

Yeah. And I I I really gotta double down on that and say that if you haven’t seen this platform in action, it schedule some time and do it. I think this is where things are moving. You know, when I talked about those four things at the beginning, those bottom two.

Right? Visibility and optimization, that is what customers are looking for when they look at to their network, and these kinds of tools are what they want. So with that, guys, thank you so much. I’m gonna turn things over to Doug now to sort of walk us through some of the questions.

Doug, what, what’s going on in the chat?

Terrific presentation, guys. Great information all the way through. And, obviously, a number of questions generated from among our partners. There was a lot of participation today.


Differentiation and Objections

I I wanna pick up kind of where we left off there just a little bit because there was a question that just came in here from Jason a moment ago asking, hey. You know, we talked to a lot of our, clients who say, well, you know, I appreciate that you’re offering these various services, but we already have those in some form. And where I’ve always seen the genius of, CommandLink is that you’re offering products across the entire stack, not only of networking, but IT. We’ve got security in there and other services as well.

Jason’s question is, what can I most effectively say to a client who’s saying, you know, I’ve already got that covered on my end? Give them the, twenty five second version of what the advantages are of working those through CommandLink.

The the goal the goal is to get them to a demonstration. It could be could be twenty minutes on a on a call, but the reality is is that’s just that’s just an objection that they’re they’re defaulting because they don’t know that something is different.

Where CommandLink is different is the software working together with a very, very different support model. CommandLink is built differently, and that difference is why, our partners and and their customers are so phenomenally happy. We have sub one percent churn. So I think the the question is, I realize you have network service provider.

I have a company that is truly innovating the industry. It’s starting to influence the investment from competitors around software. These these guys have been doing this for years. Just give me fifteen minutes on a demo, and I I I’m very high highly confident that would result in additional conversations.

So say that part again. Sub one percent churn is what you guys have? Yes.

Man, that’s good. I think it’s pretty good.

Almost unheard of these days.

We we had a number of questions that came in around. Yeah. Know, what are we get these questions typically on the call. What’s sort of the minimum billing? What’s the sweet spot for a customer that you’re looking at? But I wanna flip that on its head just a little bit because as we talked about at the beginning of the presentation, the demands on the network, the need for connectivity is actually increasing across the board. So, yeah, let’s talk about minimums for a second, but then let’s also talk about how can Commandly help a client who is seeing the need to increase and augment their existing network into something much bigger that can handle increased demand, AI demands, all sorts of those things.


Minimum Billing and Expansion

Yeah. Makes sense. And I I wanna be clear on on that minimum. With with circuits, we really don’t have the concern.

With SD WAN and SASE, the management we wrap around that single path that we have for our customer is more expensive. So generally speaking, we wanna see a path to at least five thousand dollars MRC. At ten thousand dollars MRC is better. It wouldn’t involve SASE or SD WAN.

But you a partner can sell circuits regardless.

That is a great way to try command link.

It will be project managed. They will have the platform. They will get the support model in the in in the command pods, and that’s a great way for a partner who has not sold us to get some trust and familiarity with us. We’ve also continued to make massive investments for the other part of your question.

Our VP of AI and software development was in the same role with the comp contact center center company Genesys.

We continue to to innovate. We continue to reinvest in the business.

CommandLink Pro is just one iteration of that.

AI is also, coming with CommandLink Pro, with CommandLink Enterprise coming next year. We have a whole bunch of other, things coming. We have a full security, practice, SOC, SIM, MDR, XDR, that’s just maybe a couple months away as well. So, for those of you that have have not looked at command link lately, it’s time to do that again.

Yeah. I think, that’s all good stuff, and I like the way you frame that question, Doug, because I think that’s that’s really what the crux of this is, right, is that the demands on the network are increasing, but the staff size is not. So what else is out there that we can utilize?

Well, how can we get better performance, optimize performance out of our network? And it’s these kind of tools that really make it happen. So, guys, really appreciate the time on the call. I know, Nick, if you wanna hang out, and I think there’s a couple more questions in the chat, you guys, will be around to answer those for a few minutes. But, Doug, that’s my time. I’m gonna turn things back over to you.


Networking Demands and Tools

I’m gonna throw one more question in there. I wanted to give Kelly Hoyle a chance to respond to this. You did a great job presenting the case for command link support. But if you wouldn’t mind and and so many people that know you from your Telarus days understand the value of the support, that you brought to them while here, and you’ve continued that at CommandLink. Talk a little bit again about the dedicated support offerings that CommandLink has and why every customer is treated, in fact, the same way. There’s one path.

Yeah. Absolutely.


Dedicated Support and Partner Relationships

So one thing that we do is we always dedicate, customer success managers to every single customer. So as you mentioned, the network is evolving. The products that customers need are evolving. And what our dedicated CSMs do is they stay actively engaged with the customer to make sure that they’re a hundred percent satisfied with their solution, but also conduct, executive business reviews where we can kinda plan out their journey over the next twelve to eighteen months and be able to help expand that network and bring in those other product sets that customers are looking for. And one thing that has been absolutely incredible for our partners is as we uncover opportunities within CommandLink, that’s amazing. But customers oftentimes bring us into opportunities that are not part of our scope and not part of our product stack. And so we always work really closely with the partner to make sure that they can maximize their revenue as they’re going through these opportunities.

And they’re it gives us an opportunity to build a relationship with the partner because they know that we they can trust us. We’re hiring dedicated, CSMs who have been in the industry and working with partners.

They’re industry veterans. They know how to work with partners, and they’ll help you maximize that deal and keep that customer for, you know, ten years. So it’s an incredible opportunity.

Thanks, Kelly. Mason, I’ve got one last question for you as well, and Nick recommended that we send this one your way.


SLA and Teaser Video

Question came from, Arm. How can you offer a one hundred percent uptime SLA when it’s dependent on the ISPs in place. Talk a little bit about what CommandLink does to ensure that hundred percent uptime.

Good question.

We have robust SLAs around every service, but, we’ve created an SLA that’s not, individual circuit based. It’s it it’s defined as the ability to pass and receive traffic at the location level. So almost every most of our engagements are highly redundant networks where it’s at least a primary and secondary.

The option for a a tertiary is becoming more and more common. And what we’re doing is putting a credit behind any instance where any location is not able to pass and receive traffic. And I’d be happy to share a copy of that, if you’d like to see it in more detail.

Great answer.

Nick, I I can’t leave without asking about the teaser video. You got a lot of folks that are asking for that. Tell them again how they can obtain that and what’s included.

There’s actually a couple oh, go ahead, Nick.

Okay. We we we have a few of them. They’ve been very popular across our channels team, across the United States. And so anybody that is interested, feel free to to funnel that my way to nick at command link dot com.

I’d be more than happy to send you. We actually have a private YouTube link. So you have no way of accessing it publicly, but I’d be more than happy to send it to you directly. You’re welcome to use it internally to send it to your clients as well.

Again, that’s just nick at command link dot com, and I will get that in your hands.

Thank you, Nick. Nick Madsen, Kelly Hoyle, and Mason Miles, all from Command Link, and, of course, the one and only, Graham Scott. Thanks, guys, for a terrific presentation today on advanced networking and the services that Command Link offers. We’ll see you again here soon.