E46 - Chris Gilmour at Axians

George Barnes
Chris Gilmour

By George Barnes & Chris Gilmour

On our 46th episode of The Route to Networking podcast, George Barnes is joined by Chris Gilmour, the CTO Service Provider and Enterprise at Axians UK. Chris tells us what they do over at Axians as well as his pearls of wisdom to anyone looking to get into the industry.

Axians is structured in a way where there are several business units that focus on specific areas of the market. Within the UK they have Service Provider Enterprise, Public Sector and dedicated Security focused on the business unit. The area he spends most of his time is the Service Provider and Enterprise units.

The main topics of conversation when talking to customers covers many things due to being so many things on the horizon. In the last 5 years, increased niche software tools and technologies have arrived whereas before, vendors used to make things for the service providers to then build services for enterprises. Now you have a lot of enterprise-focused technologies appearing from nowhere that are very niche. That explosion of technology has only accelerated over the years, and it is almost impossible to keep tabs on what’s going on.

Prior to where he is today Chris started off as a Network Engineer in 1998 at Mercury Communications. He then got into Pre-Sales for 6-7 years, which he thoroughly enjoyed because it changed every day.

Being in the industry for many years, he holds a lot of knowledge which goes hand in hand with a lot of wisdom under his belt. To anyone considering the industry, he says they need to be very inquisitive. They need to be able to keep learning because it is constantly changing and that requires you to be flexible.

If you had come into the market 10 years ago, the route you would be on it to get your JNCIE, then you can sit and build a heavy architecture of networks and manage them and it would have been a clear path for you from that point forward. Technology is now moving quickly and new technology is arriving every day, you cannot know everything, but it would be more beneficial to have a bit of an understanding of several things rather than a deep understanding of one area.

Some of the biggest changes he is facing at Axians currently, apart from time, is the access to talent. Networking is a much more tried and tested career option for many people. That has not translated into ‘there are graduates everywhere, take your pick’, it’s still quite a specialist area. So, finding people with the right skills is difficult. Another challenge he is seeing is the increasing amount of cyber risk. It is not an if but a when you are going to get attacked. Cybercriminals have evolved as technology has and the need to make security stronger is definitely something that has become more prevalent over the years.

As technology improves and evolves, how exactly will this affect Axians?

Going back years now, their prime workload was helping service providers design and implement MPLS networks because back then, MPLS was niche, now everyone understands it and has become more in demand. This means they have moved more specific, more focused and have now been developing the enterprise side.

To finish off the interview, Chris is hit with our infamous quick-fire round… He gives out some great answers alongside his most controversial opinion. Make sure you listen to the full episode now to hear what he says!