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Leading Lights 2018 Finalists: Company of the Year (Private)

Mitch Wagner

Private companies enjoy freedom to focus on customer satisfaction and long-term results, not driven by the cruel quarterly cycles of equities markets. This year we're seeing a bumper crop of private companies delivering on innovation and service. But five companies stand out as finalists in the coveted Company of the Year (Private) category for our annual Leading Lights award.

The Company of the Year (Private) title is awarded to the privately held firm that stands out from its competitors, innovates constantly, makes investors proud, and makes employees happy.

The finalists are: Apstra; Aryaka Networks; Colt Technology Services; Sedona Systems; and Sigma Systems.  

The winners of all 24 Leading Lights awards and the three Women in Comms awards, as well as the identities of this year's Light Reading Hall of Fame inductees, will be announced at the fantabulous Leading Lights dinner/party, which will be held during the evening of Monday, May 14, at the Brazos Hall in Austin, Texas, following a day of pre-BCE workshops.

Then, the morning after the awards party, the doors open to this year's Big Communications Event (BCE) at the Austin Convention Center.  

To find out which companies were shortlisted across all of this year's Leading Lights categories, please check out Leading Lights 2018: The Finalists and Congrats to 2018's WiC Leading Lights Finalists.

Let's have a look at the finalists in this category.

Apstra pioneered intent-based networking and intent-based analytics to simplify data center construction and operation, before Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) made intent-based networking fundamental to its strategy in 2017. Apstra's hardware-independent AOS software operates a network as one system and delivers automated turnkey infrastructure operations across all major networking vendors as well as open alternatives. Apstra increases agility, uptime and reduces infrastructure costs by empowering the network to configure itself, fix itself and defend itself.

Apstra is funded by David Cheriton, one of the first investors in Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) and VMware Inc. (NYSE: VMW), and a co-founder and investor in Arista Networks Inc.

Apstra has generated revenue domestically and internationally since 2016. Customers include Tier 1 and Tier 2 wireline and wireless service providers worldwide, enterprise users and web-scale/SaaS companies, including Yahoo Japan.

Aryaka Networks
Unlike other SD-WANs, Aryaka provides its own global private network with 28 points of presence. Aryaka combines SD-WAN, WAN optimization, connectivity to cloud platforms and network visibility in a single solution delivered as a service.

Aryaka's SmartAccess, introduced in June, is a clientless SD-WAN for remote access, allowing businesses to extend applications to global remote and mobile users, with enhanced security and reliable, faster and more predicable application performance. Passport, introduced in March, provides application performance and security.

Aryaka has been growing between 50% and 100% year-on-year, with its SD-WAN solution deployed by more than 800 enterprises worldwide. The company has a customer retention rate of 97% and a net promoter score of 65, and customers include Skullcandy, Emirates Airlines, Air China, Samsung, and Cigna.

Colt Technology Services
Colt Technology Services Group Ltd has overhauled its strategy and network, with a focus on high-bandwidth connectivity and deploying the Colt IQ Network, as well as transforming its company culture. The company appeared in Glassdoor's list of the UK's Top 50 employers and improved its average rating on Glassdoor in the UK from 2.8 to 3.7. Colt also reached an all-time high with its NPS (Net Promoter Score), hitting a record 41 in Q3 2017. Colt consistently scores as the Best in Class Telco in the Satmetrix (the Net Promoter Score authority) EU B2B Benchmark. NPS is the leading customer experience metric for all industries and is often used as a principal indicator for growth, and an anchor for the customer experience management (CEM) program.

Sedona Systems
Sedona Systems is a four-year-old VC-funded company based in Israel and Silicon Valley with the mission of helping network operators with the key challenges of analyzing networks and automating them. Sedona's NetFusion network controller accurately understands the current state of the network and its services over multiple domains and layers, supporting most IP and optical vendors. NetFusion is commercially deployed by multiple Tier 1 operators such as Verizon.

NetFusion is designed to be extensible, with an ecosystem of service provider and partner developers delivering custom solutions using the company's APIs.

The company culture emphasizes inclusion and mutual support; new offices in Tel Aviv have been designed around a common dining room where all the Israel based employees meet and share a meal during the day, promoting the sharing of ideas.

Sigma Systems
Sigma Systems ' mission is improving communications service providers' methods of creating, selling and delivering new digital products, through Sigma's CPQ, order management and provisioning systems, which can reduce implementation time by up to 90%. The Insights product, launched in 2017, provides visibility into service provider commercial and technical performance, based on information from relevant systems such as CRM, order management, provisioning and billing.

Sigma employs 418 people, up 10% in the last year, in 15 countries, and the company doubled its order intake last year over 2016, with a customer retention rate greater than 97%.

Sigma joined forces with Cable & Wireless in the aftermath of Hurricanes Irma and Maria, to support relief and rebuilding efforts in the Caribbean.

— Mitch Wagner Follow me on Twitter Visit my LinkedIn profile Visit my blog Follow me on FacebookExecutive Editor, Light Reading

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