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29 April 2021

Synamedia strikes SMBs while hot with RDK-V/B as managed service

This is a tantalizing time to be targeting small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs). A year ago, the pandemic’s iron grip was suffocating opportunities – resulting in fewer SMBs starting up. Since then, the gradual easing of lockdown restrictions and the onset of business assistance plans have been driving innovations among a resurgent SMB marketplace, particularly in the US.

Synamedia is the latest technology vendor to react not only to the growing SMB opportunity, but also the huge spike in demand for managed services right through the supply chain. Launching Synamedia Gravity, the idea is to equip operators with tools to offer SMBs (and not forgetting residential customers too) a suite of advanced video and broadband capabilities including 4K/UHD/HDR – based on Synamedia Enterprise RDK (eRDK) technology.

Synamedia Gravity therefore brings RDK-V and RDK-B under one roof as managed services. Operators and vendors alike typically prefer to keep these two variations of RDK technology in separate rooms, often in separate buildings in different cities miles apart, so an active effort to bring RDK-V and RDK-B closer together is what makes Synamedia Gravity a unique suite in our view.

If we have learned anything from speaking with companies operating in both video and broadband network delivery, it is that keeping your video department and your broadband department on the same page is absolutely imperative to the longevity of a solid service provider business plan.

Synamedia eRDK, a productized version of Comcast RDK, takes on much of the cumbersome device development and management processes involved in deploying experiences across video and broadband devices – offloading resources so product teams can concentrate on innovating with features of value to SMBs such as SVoD and security. Offered as a managed service, Synamedia Gravity supports the RDK product lifecycle from device definition, design, and deployment, to management, monitoring and onto end-of-life – with pre-integrated devices kept continually updated with the latest code for rapid time to market.

On top of the third-party applications and platform-integration that comes with certified OEM hardware, Synamedia eRDK incorporates a layer upon which service providers can lather on value-added services such as cloud UX and mesh WiFi, as the infographic below illustrates.

As with most Synamedia product announcements, Gravity is another that comes with a message about the benefits of going all-in with Synamedia services, while claiming that multi-vendor approaches work out more costly and complex, with greater security risks. Others will argue that avoiding vendor lock-in is a crucial part of the modern game.

On managed services, the year gone by has seen a surge in RFPs for automation and APIs, not just in networks themselves but in the applications, the equipment, through to the WiFi software and the SD-WAN itself – all the technology required to provide end-to-end services. Everyone is using managed services now, which is really just an extension of the existing workforce.

However, the overlap in technologies has caused conundrums for many vendors accustomed to offering services in defined buckets like hardware or software, home or work, wired or wireless. In a Covid world, these have become almost indistinguishable.

We recall hearing from a Cox Business executive towards the end of 2020, who talked about the “goldilocks problem” – whereby small businesses don’t have money to spend on managed services, while larger organizations have everything handled in-house. That leaves just the medium-sized businesses – effectively removing the S from SMB. These comments sound even more defeatist in retrospect.

Meanwhile, the likes of Comcast are deploying fiber deeper in support of SMB customers, expanding capacity to meet demand for growing revenue opportunities among SMB customers. Comcast has arguably been the most vocal of the US big boys about SMB market potential, which is a strange coincidence with Comcast being the founding father of RDK. Faultline has also heard the respective CEOs of Dish Network and Altice USA recently point to robust growth in the SMB marketplace.

In Altice USA’s case, it has been offering more bandwidth and payment plans to help keep SMBs afloat in the near-term. In the long-term, Altice USA ultimately wants to help reinvent and grow emerging businesses via its products and services, which could otherwise be read as increasing bills and throwing add-ons at subscribers that not so long ago were struggling.

Looking at the network itself, prominent vendors like Cisco are spending more time and effort targeting SMBs today, shifting slightly from the focus on major enterprises, particularly where security is concerned. As these managed services among SMBs evolve and the lines blur between video and broadband, it suggests we could see Synamedia competing for the same business as its former parent company, which would mark a fascinating turn of events.

That said, the sorts of security services offered to SMBs include monitoring network traffic, scanning for installed malware, issuing security updates and patches, and generally acting as an overseer for the business software environment. To many SMBs, security means more physical security, such as cameras and alarm systems, but as more of their business operations are moved wholly online, their risk footprint increases dramatically.

Elsewhere in the supply chain, vendors such as Swiss set top maker ADB have informed Faultline about experiencing strong requests for SMB gateways during the pandemic.

Synamedia’s Alok Gera, SVP and GM for North America, commented, “For too long, offerings like these have been deemed to be a ‘one and done’ finite systems integration project, but operators deserve more. That’s why our approach includes a longer-term relationship with service providers so that we’re accountable for keeping devices constantly updated, resulting in raised levels of customer satisfaction and operational excellence.”