World-class microwave equipment manufacturer SAF Tehnika has decided to partner with Zabbix to provide NMS capabilities to its end customers. Tatjana will reveal the integration details at Zabbix Summit Online 2020. But here in the Zabbix Blog, she shared an impressive experience of SAF Tehnika’s business development and told us why the company chose Zabbix to work with.
Both of our companies SAF Tehnika and Zabbix, were founded and started their activities in Latvia. From your experience, is it easy or challenging to develop a business in a small country? Tell us about SAF Tehnika’s experience.
I am not an entrepreneur and wasn’t involved in starting the SAF business from the ground. I am sure it was challenging, but at the same time also exciting to develop niche products that had a demand across the globe. SAF Tehnika’s business was able to grow quickly just because of the unique and high-quality products set that its R&D engineers have developed.
You’ve been working in SAF Tehnika for more than 10 years. During this time, the company has grown to a world-famous enterprise with a global presence in more than 130 countries. What decisions or milestones did you think were decisive in business development?
SAF Tehnika’s general approach is to develop and introduce a new product line every 5 years because technology in the modern world becomes obsolete very fast. In my opinion, that is one of the wisest decisions that has been made within our organization. I witnessed a great success in moving from 15 years old CFM series equipment to a more modern CFIP series equipment platform. Throughput wise we moved from 10Mbps per link to 360Mbps per link. Besides, we were the first ones to introduce full-outdoor design into the market. SAF Tehnika’s revenue was skyrocketing until the moment CFIP series equipment became obsolete. Customers required more and more throughput. During the fruitful years, SAF Tehnika’s top management was wise enough to invest in R & D and develop a new Integra platform. Another huge jump throughput wise: over 1Gbps for Integra X and 10Gbps for Integra E. Eventually, Integra product line replaced the outdated CFIP series equipment and brought great success to the company.
Of course, keeping our eyes open for other niche opportunities like developing specialized products for HFT (High-Frequency Trading) has helped SAF Tehnika to grow. SAF Tehnika’s specialized low-latency product line has the lowest latency per link in the world. We were also able to listen to the requirements of our TV broadcast customers in the U.S. and developed a product line Phoenix G2 specifically for STL (studio-to-transmitter) links. Both of these niche product lines contributed considerably to SAF Tehnika’s growth.
Another important milestone was opening an office and a warehouse in North America about 7 years ago. That has increased our Sales revenue tremendously. Right now, North America’s business accounts for ~50% of the total SAF Tehnika’s revenue. Reorganization of the North America Sales team and bringing in local Technical support has helped this growth. Our customers here appreciate the Sales team with a technical background focused on their market verticals and a responsive, knowledgeable technical support team. SAF Tehnika thrives for excellence; the products and services we provide are top quality only because of the team of highly skilled professionals with a customer-first attitude.
How has your career evolved over this time?
My career at SAF Tehnika started with writing and editing technical documentation. I was curious, tech-savvy, and showed initiative whenever developing a new skill or taking on more and more challenging tasks. These efforts helped me grow and get the role of Technical Support Engineer. I was involved in link planning, complicated technical issues resolution, replication of the issues, and product training to our customers. A few years later, I started traveling within Europe and the U.S. delivering training, participating in trade shows, and helping our customers resolving issues on-sites. 5 years ago, SAF Tehnika’s board realized that its branch office in North America is not functioning well and requires reorganization. I ended up being a part of this reorganization process. I was offered the role of Sr Support Engineer in SAF North America and moved to the U.S. permanently. My task was to build a Technical Support team that could support North American customers locally. When this goal was achieved, I moved on with developing a services business primarily for North American customers. Since then, we have added Staging and Configuration, FCC coordination, and Zabbix deployment and support services to our portfolio. I am looking forward to developing these services and adding more in the future.
This year, Zabbix and SAF Tehnika announced the cooperation, which will be your speech’s main topic for the Zabbix Summit. Can you please share with our blog readers the essence of this cooperation?
Some time ago, SAF Tehnika concluded that the SAF Network Management System [NMS], which we developed ourselves and offered to our customers for many years, no longer meets today’s network requirements. Realizing that SAF NMS would not suffice with cosmetic improvements, we decided to look for an existing monitoring solution. We discovered that a high-quality monitoring solution is being developed here in Latvia [almost neighboring] that could potentially meet our requirements. Therefore, we decided to explore it in more detail. It should be noted that our intuition did not disappoint us.
What advantages will users all over the world get from our partnership? Who will benefit the most?
Since SAF Tehnika’s cooperation with Zabbix, SAF Tehnika customers will be able to monitor wireless data transmission devices developed and manufactured by SAF Tehnika together with other IT infrastructure elements from the world’s leading equipment vendors, making it a one-stop agency for critical infrastructure monitoring. We believe that our customers in WISP, Broadcast, Public Safety, Utility, and many other industries will benefit greatly from having SAF radio products in a single network monitoring system with routers, servers, and other network elements.
How and why did you choose Zabbix as a monitoring solution to work with?
When evaluating Zabbix’s capabilities, we realized that we could adapt this system to perform monitoring of networks consisting of equipment manufactured by SAF Tehnika as efficiently as we need.
We see many undeniable benefits in working with Zabbix. First of all, both Zabbix and we are experts in our fields. Moreover, we consider it as an important privilege that our headquarters are in one country, as it definitely facilitates our partnership. And, of course, above all, there are the well-known advantages of Zabbix: open-source software, scalability, customizability, security, and so on and so forth.
What are your future plans regarding cooperation with Zabbix and business development in general?
We hope our first Zabbix customers will like monitoring their SAF radios in Zabbix and we will obtain a few references from them for future business development. Our team intends to learn how to add templates and tune the parameters of other vendor devices that might be in our customer’s network besides SAF equipment. We might consider providing monitoring service in the future when our Zabbix business grows to the scalable size and interest for such service develops among our customers.
What do you await from Zabbix Summit Online 2020?
As we are newcomers to the Zabbix community, we are very interested in all the news related to Zabbix, as well as the experience of other Zabbix users, because it is always better to learn from the mistakes of others. That is why we decided to share our own experience in Zabbix Summit 2020 because there is a possibility that it will be useful for someone else.