Q&A—Aryaka's new CEO looks to level up company's presence in the SD-WAN space

Whether it's by IPO, working with service providers or M&A, Aryaka's new CEO is tasked with increasing his company's market share in the SD-WAN market.

Matt Carter came onboard as Aryaka's new CEO last month after replacing former CEO John Peters, who was with Aryaka for roughly five months. Prior to joining Aryaka, Carter was president and CEO of Inteliquent, which provides unified communications services and next-generation networking services to companies around the globe.

Carter was also president of Sprint's global enterprise business with a focus on IoT and wholesale business customers. Since Sprint offers MPLS services, Carter sees both sides of the MPLS and SD-WAN coin now that he is at Aryaka.

"We're kind of in a funky place at Aryaka as friend and foe of the carriers," he said in an interview Wednesday with FierceTelecom. "We spent a lot of time at Sprint selling MPLS services so we have a really deep knowledge of it. We (Aryaka) can surely help them as they're looking for sort of a next generation type of service like we sell to complement their existing infrastructure or, in some cases, we're going to be going head to head as they're trying to sell their core MPLS services versus ours."

RELATED: Aryaka CMO sees IPO, SD-WAN sector consolidation ahead

In this Q&A, which was edited for clarity and length, Carter discusses how Aryaka is looking at expanding its presence in the SD-WAN space, which includes working with more service providers and enterprise customers.

FierceTelecom: Aryaka has been open in the past about the possibility of an IPO. Can you give us an update on a possible IPO?

Matt Carter: I would say right now my primary focus is really continuing the growth of Aryaka and expanding our market share. And I think that whatever comes from that effort we'll evaluate at that time. There's no timeline around an IPO or any other sort of exit options for the company. My mandate was to come in and really get the company to get to the next stage of growth.

I think we've done a really good job of serving small and mid-size companies. It's now how do we really appeal to, say, larger enterprises and taking on more, if you will, of their networking outsource opportunities? So, that's really where the focus is. Let's resonate with that, execute against that. The board and I will then evaluate at the appropriate time as to what's the next step or what's the appropriate exit, if any, for Aryaka.

FierceTelecom: When you talk about serving more of the enterprise sector, that puts you in direct competition with Orange, Verizon and AT&T's SD-WAN services?

Carter: Yeah, it absolutely will. As we have assessed the market and talked to a number of different customers, what we came away with is an understanding from them that they're not particularly happy with their current incumbent. They're looking for companies that can deploy much more quickly, along with affordability, agility and all these things that really matter to them. So we feel there's an opportunity to garner some additional market share by just being, providing a comparable, reliable, high-quality service with the ability to deploy it on a much quicker time frame.

The carriers typically take 9-12 months to deploy MPLS services. We can do it in a matter of a few weeks, and that's a very appealing value proposition to enterprises. So, yes, we will be in, a lot of cases, in direct competition. But then, at the same time, this is the other side where we're also friends with the carriers. So they look at us potentially as a way to offer a service that they provide to meet those attributes I just mentioned. It becomes a way for them to maintain their existing relationship with those customers by partnering with a company like Aryaka who can deploy these sort of MPLS-like services on a much quicker time frame.

FierceTelecom: But Orange, for example, has its own SD-WAN service in place, as well as processes to find out what each customer needs in order to deploy SD-WAN quickly. How do you compete against that?

Carter: If you talk to a lot of the major carriers they would say that but the proof is really in the pudding, right? Do they really deliver on what they're out there saying to guys like you and to customers? Again, from our conversations with various customers, they've talked to a number of those different carriers SD-WAN folks and they don't always deliver on their promise of what they say. So, we'll see. I'm quite sure some will be able to execute and then there are others right now where the talk doesn't match the performance or execution.

FierceTelecom: How will Aryaka define its go-to-market strategy going forward? What are the opportunities?

Carter: I think the real opportunity is for us to take a look overall at how we go to market and looking at partnerships. Today we work with a number of different channel partners that help us to reach a number of different customers around the globe. There are also strategic partnerships that have existing relationships. We just have to be smart, is the approach we're taking, around how to do we deploy and get the kind of distribution model that we need out there in the marketplace? Again, we're a small company so we don't have the sales reach that others do despite the fact that we have a quality product that is better than most out there in the marketplace. And so, this gives us a chance to just think more strategically.

Who are the right partners that we should work with to be able to get that sort of distribution model that we need?

FierceTelecom: In IHS Markit's second quarter revenue leaderboard for SD-WAN, Aryaka passed Silver Peak to finish second behind VMware. Are those two your closest competitors?

Carter: This is a market that if you segment it out, it has this nuance in a lot of ways, depending on the customer, what door they're coming in from. It's how you position yourself. Some customers look at us and say, "Okay, you guys are a MPLS replacement option," and so they'll come through that door. Then there are others who will say, "You guys have are a managed service provider and you manage end-to-end for us." And then there are others who will say, "Look, you know, we just need an edge, a box, and we'll do it ourselves" type of service.

I will say that those two are our competitors, but we also have other competitors based upon how customers are coming into the marketplace and looking at services like we offer. So in other words, it's a lot of dimensionality to the competitive set. What we're trying to do with Aryaka is really put us in a position where we can bring some clarity around that market. We can play at all of those spaces for our customers depending on their particular needs and opportunities.