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Cable Tech

Businesses are accelerating network transformation programs, Charter exec says

CABLE NEXT-GEN BUSINESS SERVICES DIGITAL SYMPOSIUM – As the pandemic approaches the two-year mark, enterprise businesses are "accelerating network transformation programs" and embracing a wider range of new services and technologies, an exec with Spectrum Enterprise says.

"Businesses are in renew phase," Bob Schroeder, vice president, enterprise data product management at Charter Communications' Spectrum Enterprise unit, said Thursday during a keynote discussion here at Light Reading's 15th annual event focused on cable business services.

Charter Communications pulled in $1.7 billion in commercial services revenues in Q3 2021, with $656 million of that total coming from its growing enterprise segment.  
Pictured is Charter's headquarters building in Stamford, Connecticut. 
(Image source: Charter Communications)
Charter Communications pulled in $1.7 billion in commercial services revenues in Q3 2021, with $656 million of that total coming from its growing enterprise segment.
Pictured is Charter's headquarters building in Stamford, Connecticut.
(Image source: Charter Communications)

He said that has led to a set of significant macro trends for enterprise customers. Among them is a move of workloads into the cloud, with it being increasingly common for enterprise customers to use more than one cloud service provider.

"Accommodating moving workloads to the cloud is a major undertaking for IT leaders today," said Schroeder, an exec at a unit of Charter that recently went on the offensive with a new brand identity and campaign focused on the enterprise market.

Meanwhile, Internet connectivity is not only essential but "critical," he added, pointing to the hybrid WAN as a "new norm" for business customers. Additionally, traditional remote access products are giving way to cloud-based teleworker solutions.

"We expect clients to migrate legacy remote access services to the SASE (Secure Access Service Edge) framework that enables advanced functionality and end-user protection," Schroeder said.

Another trend involves security, with businesses requiring multiple layers of it to protect devices, apps and infrastructure. "A hybrid environment with perimeter-based firewalls along with cloud security is the most effective architecture to protect the corporate network today," he said.

To support this transformation, Spectrum Enterprise implemented an expedited upgrade program for businesses, including upgrades for dedicated Internet access to support work-from-home scenarios as well as direct cloud connects to support workloads in the cloud and for carrier Ethernet hub locations that required more bandwidth for apps such as unified communications.

Spectrum Enterprise also responded with a new managed network edge offering that is effectively an ecosystem featuring routing, security, switching, video, Wi-Fi and unified communications that can be delivered via fiber, hybrid fiber/coax (HFC) and wireless networks.

"We saw a need for a comprehensive networking solution that simplifies the challenges of modern networking," Schroeder said.

Schroeder said Spectrum Enterprise Managed Network Edge has been popular with small, single site customers, but adds that it also scales to support large, multi-site SD-WAN deployments. One significant area of adoption is the use of high-performance cameras for video surveillance, he said.

Preparing for the unexpected

While the pandemic did help to spur some of this activity, businesses are also pushing forward to ensure they are better prepared for the unexpected.

"Network transformation today prepares businesses for the next event, whatever it may be, just so businesses aren't caught flat-footed," Schroeder said. "The adoption of managed services has been one of the biggest and, I think, the most permanent changes we're seeing because of the constraints and pressures we're seeing with hiring, training and retaining employees ... I think they'll better prepared for whatever comes next."

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— Jeff Baumgartner, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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