Sonus: Full Speed Ahead Following NET Acquisition


Portfolio-wise, Sonus already has its SBC 5200, which provides for 64,000 sessions on a single server, and SBC 5100, which targets the 250 to 10,000 session customer, as products to serve larger customers. But, what it gained through NET was SBC technology that can appeal to customers running fewer than 100 sessions. Sonus will sell NET's flagship Unified Exchange (UX) products as the Sonus SBC 1000 and 2000.

"It was clear that the SBC 5100 was never going to scale down to that price point," Sonus' Abbott explained. "There's not a lot of interest in delivering SIP down to that market just yet. There will be, but the technology [for now] needed to be an access device that enabled VoIP where SIP was not going to be available. We had an organic development plan to do that, but we shelved that for NET. It was all about time to market."

Sonus is still assessing the future for NET's other products, including several of its legacy gateway products, and Abbott said to expect a few to see end-of-sale notices within the next year.

Sonus' SIP business is growing 60 percent year over year, Abbott said, and at the time of the acquisition, NET's business was on pace to grow 40 percent year over year, and it had added more than 50 new customers in the previous quarter.

Having NET does two other big things for Sonus. It brings the company a large installed base of federal government customers, and it also expands Sonus' footprint with Microsoft's Lync UC platform, which Abbott agrees is now a "major" UC offering and for which the entire Sonus portfolio is now certified. Sonus should hold appeal for Microsoft Lync-focused solution providers that otherwise wouldn't be on the company's channel radar.

"If you're in the UC business, you tend to focus on one, at most two major UC providers," Abbott said. "It's rare that you would be a Cisco partner for UC and also picking up Avaya heavily or Siemens. That's not true in all cases, but these Microsoft partners are going to be a new class of partners for us that weren't part of our original target. Microsoft is going to be a major player in UC, and they have a pretty unique opportunity."

Sonus wasn't necessarily seeking acquisitions, but when NET approached Sonus, Abbott said, the deal soon made sense for everyone.

"This is a company that was financially challenged because they had not done a good job making the transition from a very large federal government business that had been historically tied to wartime-spend to shifting into the enterprise space," Abbott said. "They couldn't get the enterprise business big enough, fast enough to offset the declines in the federal space, so they were starting to drain cash and the board was looking for strategic options."

PUBLISHED SEPT. 5, 2012