“The cloud,” is a nebulous term to many. Not to John.
Starting out as a young musician, John’s knowledge of keyboards, synthesizers, and composing music eventually led him to take an interest in computers and digital music technology. From there, it was an easy transition to learning routing, switching, and VoIP when he took his first post-college job in the 80’s with AT&T. Read this Q&A to learn more about the career path and experiences of Polycom’s cloud expert.
What was your career path to Polycom?
It began when I started working at AT&T as one of my first jobs out of college in the late ‘80s. As telecom technology evolved from what it was in the 80s into the new millennium, I was on the front lines being educated and learning how packet and IP networking would impact and shape the market.
I later moved into the division within AT&T that is now Avaya. I was responsible for PBX, voicemail, and traditional voice products for SMB and large enterprise customers. I soon became the subject matter expert for sales of computer-telephony integration (CTI) / interactive voice response (IVR), and video conferencing technologies, (ironically via partnership with PictureTel).
During the .com period, I managed a North American Presales SE team supporting sales of class 5 voice switches, broadband access, IP routing, optical transport, and enterprise software technologies to a variety of service provider customers. But when the .com bubble burst, my focus moved to the channel and there I supported the global channel SE organization and business development. I co-developed the ADVance product configurator with Bell Labs which became the universal pricing and solution validation tool for Lucent Technologies products in the channel. Eventually I went on to develop and lead the global channel organization at Alcatel Lucent during the merger of the two companies.
From there, I set my roots at Polycom. I was hired to promote and sell immersive solutions in 2007, but it wasn’t long before I was asked to lead the business development efforts on behalf of Polycom’s cloud and service provider group worldwide.
What sets you apart from other cloud experts?
Video-as-a-service is new. Many partners and service providers still aren’t sure how to build a compelling service offer and business plan. There are many ways to do it, but the value I bring is a global view of best practices that include knowledge of what’s made partners successful vs not. I can help tailor a cloud provider’s go-to-market plans and take the guess work out of how they should price, package, build, operate, support, and sell it. This expertise is unique in the industry and a differentiator for Polycom and the cloud and service provider solutions team.
What else does your role entail today?
I am one of the founders of the Open Visual Communications Consortium and am currently serving as the OVCC Vice President however my daily focus is on enablement strategies for our partners -whether a service provider, systems integrator or traditional channel partner- wanting to launch a cloud video service using Polycom Real Presence Platform. Cloud is a much different business model than reselling a codec or appliance. I show our service provider partners that if they simplify the consumption of Polycom infrastructure through the implementation of a Polycom-powered cloud, they can deliver Polycom value at a lower price in a profitable way allowing more people to use video than the limited amount of people who have access to it today. We understand how to stand up cloud services – that’s a big benefit when you are a Polycom cloud partner. To learn more about Polycom RealPresence Cloud (Video-as-a-Service), visit this website.
Can you give us some interesting examples of your work experiences?
I consider myself… a very fussy eater. Even by American standards. I’m more of a steak/potatoes eater. I don’t do well with vegetables or seafood. Traveling abroad and trying different cuisines can be challenging for me. Knowing this, work colleagues in APAC once took me to a nice restaurant that offered fried chicken. “Sounds great!” I said. However, I didn’t realize that sometimes they do fried chicken a bit differently than in Boston. They had breaded every piece including the head which, I must admit, had a bearing on my appetite.
However, those are also the moments where I also find great value. Though I might be embarrassed at times, it’s through those experiences that I’ve developed a greater appreciation for other cultures. And, with everyone moving toward cloud, it’s a tremendous opportunity to have a global role that allows me to work and help support partners of many diverse cultures build their cloud services. Learning and applying best practices for cloud providers in other countries excites me about getting up and going to work every day. I’m proud and privileged to be of the few cloud experts in the industry who can bring a global perspective to cloud partners who want to get succeed in selling cloud video services.
Could you please tell us your perspective on a hot trend happening in cloud today?
One big trend is the migration of premise based managed services to public and private cloud hosted services. Here, Polycom is an enabler. We have a great deal of knowledge around how end customers use video products. Our cloud team, in particular, has deep knowledge of how to turn it into a service. The two notable areas where we’ve made large strides in moving our solutions into the cloud hosted realm:
Virtualization/Cloud Technology Advancement: we migrated our code from our own appliances and put them into the very virtualization platforms that are being used to cloud-enable other apps around the world (e.g., VMware environments). As a result, Polycom enables the cloud provider with differentiation to offer and support many more use cases and on demand consumption models as cloud services with greater scale, cost efficiency, and reliability.
Cloud Business Model Expertise: our cloud and service provider team provides commercial, engineering, and operational expertise as a presales value-add for our cloud provider customers. Polycom provides customers the option to purchase training from Polycom experts so they can immediately operate and manage themselves, or they can pay Polycom to build, operate, and transfer the system to them when they’re ready to operate it themselves. This allows the customer the flexibility to improve their time to market, margin, and operational efficiency.
Not only do we share our knowledge about Polycom’s solutions, but we also share invaluable best practices that our team has gathered from around the world over time. It can be intimidating or overwhelming for a customer to get a handle on all there is to think about when standing up a service. But, we help them make informed decisions and improve their opportunity for success working side by side with Polycom. To me, that’s just what it means to be a great partner to our cloud service provider customers.
How do you see cloud operations working in the future?
The market has changed the last few years, and many disruptive factors have confused the buyers. My view of what will happen is conservative as I don’t see confusion going away soon. I see the accelerated uptake for cloud and video/UC-as-a-service is going to be slow. Most likely, there will be triggers over the next 5 years that’ll be the beginning of ‘hockey stick’ curve. A few trigger examples:
The pervasiveness of video collaboration in workflow integration; that is, when video is at your fingertips and embedded in everything you use to do your job.
Another: mobility. In my opinion, it’s strongly related to cloud because things that are mobile have to be registered to be identified. And, as you can see, mobile is taking off. What cloud provides is cost efficiency and scale. And, as I discussed earlier, we’re moving from managed services of single tenant rooms and infrastructure to public hosted infrastructure for multitenant scale of thousands and tens of thousands of individual users. This’ll take time.
Millenials: their knowledge, patience, and cultural acceptance of video are a different dimension from the average worker today. As the millennials become a more pervasive force in the workforce, that’s when we’ll likely see the hockey curve expand as the adoption rate goes up.
Adoption and use cases. Today, applications and use cases for videoconferencing are well known. However, understanding how to consume video as a service is not so well understood. The more that video and collaboration adoption expands into the business workflow, the easier it will be to make cloud consumption commonplace.
What’s the most unique situation where you had to use Polycom technology?
I’ll describe a personal use case. One of my children, Emily, is severely handicapped with cerebral palsy. Despite being a quadriplegic, she is brilliant from a mental capacity. She’s been in college for a few years now and just recently moved to live independently in Amherst, MA at a UMASS campus that’s 2 hours from where her mother and I live. She has a number of personal care assistants who help her with eating, clothing and mobility. Just after leaving her to her new-found independence, she ventured out in her electric wheel chair across the large campus. It began to rain and the chair unexpectedly stopped. Her assistant didn’t know what to do, so she called us. We came up with an idea: we sent her instructions to download the Real Presence Mobile App in addition to dial information for my Polycom VMR (Virtual Meeting Room). Within a few short minutes, the personal care assistant joined the video call from her iPad. My wife and I sat behind the Polycom video system in my office. The assistant used the tablet to show us the wheelchair and control modules. There are panels with buttons and lights that need to be on and my wife and I were able to quickly instruct her which buttons to push to restart the chair. In short order, they made it back safely to my daughter’s dorm.
I think there’s an important lesson to this story. If I were a large education institution, I might offer a subscription cloud video service that I could make available to disabled students and their families. Visual reassurance is critical when it comes to helping others, especially when a child is disabled….I know it made a difference for me in my personal experience.
What do you like to do in your free time?
I’ve been a lifelong musician, a drummer. When I completed my business studies at Bryant University in Rhode Island, I went on to the Berklee College of Music in Boston to study performance and music composition. In addition to my cloud career, I taught drumming privately for 19 years. Over the last 35 years, I’ve played in a wide variety of cover bands (classic rock, wedding, country, jazz, 80’s). Today, travel schedule permitting, I look forward to weekly rehearsals with my son and a few very talented friends to finalize an album of instrumental pop fusion compositions we plan to formally release in late 2015.
As a musician I learned to play drums, then synthesizers, write music, and this led me to my interest in computers and technology. It was easy leveraging those skills when I was learning routing, switching, VoIP.
Note: If you’re at WebRTC Conference and Expo in San Jose, Calif. this week, please feel free to reach out to John directly if you’d like to schedule a meeting: firstname.lastname@example.org.
To learn more about Polycom’s Cloud and Service Providers Group, visit this website or contact John at the email address above.