PlanetOne Communication took its 2015 Telecom Tour to Southern California on Thursday, meeting with around a hundred of its agents and prospective partners to discuss their rapidly changing industry.
Last year, Ted Schuman, CEO of the master agent based in Scottsdale, Ariz., told CRN that the IT and telecom channels were merging because of the cloud.
This year, the once-disparate practices have completely converged, Schuman said after the event in Newport Beach. "I'm telling them, go back to school" to learn how to capitalize on the opportunities for integrating connectivity and IT services and upselling new features.
PlanetOne is seeing its agents close ever-larger deals as new products become available for them to resell, Schuman said, boosting traditional voice and networking packages with cloud-based services like hosted call centers, data backup and recovery, video conferencing, Software-as-a-Service and VDI.
Illustrating the metamorphosis, at least half the agents in the room come from the IT side of the fence, Schuman told CRN.
But with new business opportunities come new challenges, and a big one every agent must face down at some point is IT security.
John Ayers, senior director of security at Level 3 Communications, Broomfield, Colo., told the agents they need to understand that a firewall is hardly enough to protect their customers.
"It is really a constant fight out there today," Ayers said in a presentation on data security threats.
Level 3 sees more than six attacks a second against its public infrastructure, Ayers said, and an increasing number are fairly sophisticated, including several zero-day attacks a month.
That heightened threat level is a result of trends that are transforming the industry: cloud, mobility and social media. The perimeter has changed because "we're all trying to get to the cloud," he said.