The rise of SDN and SD-WAN is reshaping the ecosystem of internet infrastructure rapidly, and many companies have been retooling to take advantage of new opportunities. For example, Epsilon seems to be everywhere these days with its Infiny SDN platform these days as the company looks to leverage its global footprint. Now they are looking to add SD-WAN to the mix, taking aim at a slice of the global enterprise market. With us today to talk about those plans is the company’s new Chief Commercial Officer Lee Myall. Lee was previously SVP and Managing Director at Interoute until its sale to GTT a year ago.
TR: What drew you to Epsilon after your long run at Interoute?
LM: The SDN core that Epsilon has is a fantastic complement to SD-WAN. The transition the industry faces is going to last for years, but it’s for sure that stuff is shifting out of customer-owned instances in data centers and into hyperscale or cloud provider data centers. Enterprises may be driving an SD-WAN project but they’re also often looking to try and change how the infrastructure behaves beneath that SD-WAN layer. How do you present that DC to connectivity without creating a bottleneck so that traffic can get to where it needs to go? The Epsilon platform for me is a great answer to that. The enterprise market is changing in the way connectivity is consumed, bought, and managed toward what Epsilon has been doing for a long time. In order to meet in the middle, it’s up to Epsilon to be highly proactive and move as well. I like the stage that Epsilon is at because it’s a successful company that has a very bird’s eye view on how the market is changing, remains truly customer-centric, and is really up for moving quickly with the marketplace. I also like the fact that a company this agile actually has this extent of geographic reach. This is a company that can get you to a lot of places around the world with good, easily deployable, high-capacity connectivity without being a huge multinational company.
TR: What will you be focusing on at Epsilon in your capacity as Chief Commercial Officer?
LM: Growth, of course, is always the keyword, and Epsilon is no exception. Epsilon is not huge, but it is quite widely distributed and provides a global fabric to its customer base. It’s an organization that has got plenty of market share to gain and we just need to build the commercial engine and the strategy to go out there and win a fair slice of the business out in the world. The last three companies I’ve worked for have also been privately funded challengers in the technology space, so I have enjoyed this journey a couple of other times before now.
TR: What do you think is most important for Epsilon to focus on as it seeks out new avenues of growth?
LM: When taking a business through that growth, you mustn’t lose the customer-centric part. Yes, you have more processes, but you’ve got to keep moving quickly and never lose sight of what you’re trying to achieve: customer value, customer satisfaction, and winning the business. The key thing is maintaining that hunger, that challenge of customer-centric mentality whilst achieving enough maturity to present a robust, well organized and resilient proposition to customers with integrity. You have to stay agile and not just from a technical perspective, but also a commercial and process perspective. Those are the aspects of the experience that I’m delighted to be bringing to Epsilon to take them onto the next phase.
TR: What are the products that you see as the key to that growth and that industrialization?
LM: The Infiny SDN platform is and will remain the beating heart of Epsilon. The carrier business will remain valuable to us, so it’s not a question of turning away from that whatsoever. But we can grow and expand in the MSP and enterprise markets. For an MSP, a global fabric platform that has, for example, a great Asia/Pacific presence can help them to go out and win customers in that region. And for enterprises, the needs of a WAN in 2019 versus 2010 are quite different. The advent of SD-WAN as this control plane that sits above and is abstracted from the infrastructure plane makes it very exciting for an enterprise to very easily and quickly gain control over what could be a moveable piece of infrastructure underneath. Epsilon brings two control planes to this, one being that SD-WAN layer, but another being the global SDN fabric. We can partner with an enterprise to discuss how they should be handling the infrastructure underneath. We can optimize the performance of the SD-WAN boxes, having them come into our core gateways very quickly so that there is efficient routing of traffic. When there are difficult areas with regards to last-mile connectivity, they can use their local knowledge to choose the best provider. We’re able to help drive a different kind of infrastructure strategy.
TR: How many of those pieces are in place and what do you need to enhance or develop to meet the demands ahead?
LM: From the Infiny perspective we’re there; we have what we need. We’ve got the reach. Most companies don’t go everywhere in the world necessarily, but we’ve got good, strong coverage on three continents. You’ll see more information about our SD-WAN products coming out in the autumn months.
TR: Geographically, are you in all the places that you want to be right now for this?
LM: I think we’ve invested well in the platform at this point, and if I think about my prior experiences achieving a good presence in the enterprise market, I think we’re good for now. South America is our next step, that will be ready this quarter. Other than that, I think the footprint we’ve got will pretty much be the footprint for some time, and we’ll target the markets within it that we find attractive.
TR: Okay, for the SD-WAN side. Okay. What pieces of the enterprise market are you seeing the most opportunity in?
LM: We’re seeing interest from mid to upper level enterprises that have quite distributed estates. For example, the hospitality industry has the challenge of binding together some quite interesting locations with core connectivity and maybe a control plane. The gaming industry isn’t’ a classic enterprise, but they need high-performing connectivity. There are also international law firms and professional services businesses that tend to be quite well-spread. Enterprises that are heavily invested in one country are probably a bit more of a local MSP-type opportunity, so we will target global enterprises with distribution.
TR: Do you expect to be bringing on a lot of people to handle growth on the enterprise side?
LM: Yes, we will have to grow the commercial side at the time. We can start by a bit of optimization of what we have, but as we generate the interest we will align new investment definitely to the enterprise side of the business.
TR: Do you foresee any interest in inorganic opportunities to expand in the enterprise space or do you plan to do it organically?
LM: At the moment, organically for sure. I think we need to get ourselves a year down the line first, but I think we’ve got every opportunity of hitting our plans organically given the level of interest we are garnering without actually having optimized our messaging. M&A is not something we’re looking at right now, and if we did I think it’d actually be more a question of whether we wanted to change the scale of our plans.
TR: How do your relationships with IX partners fit into the picture? Are you looking to expand that list of partners?
LM: That’s definitely a successful part of the business that’s growing. The enhancement of the internet through interconnectivity is a fascinating area. We are investing time and effort into building a presence in the community at several IXs and peering groups. We have plenty more to do in deepening our existing relationships, but I don’t doubt that more will come on board. Right now though it is important for us to make sure that we really do the best job we can with the two or three that we’re working with right now.
TR: What’s the biggest challenge ahead for Epsilon’s transformation? What keeps you up at night right now?
LM: What keeps me up at night is getting us to grow fast enough. I’m quite impatient, a trait that the investors in the business quite like. I’m impatient for us to be where I want us to be in 12 months’ time. But we also need our existing business to continue to grow, and I’m really mindful of ensuring that the world understands that we have a focus on the customers that we have now. They remain critical to us , without a doubt.
TR: The global economy is a bit of a strange place right now. Do you see the broader environment causing any difficulties?
LM: No. I think the thing with connectivity is that it is business-critical and the need for it doesn’t go away. We’re not a “like to have,” we’re a “need to have”. Of course, people can decide to not refresh it on such a regular basis. But even with some bumps in the global economy I don’t imagine that the rate of data growth will slow down particularly. One way or the other the consumers are hungry for it, and \ they don’t need to pay for anything other than their mobile phones to consume it. I think that where we’re heading with enterprise solutions will be very cost-effective. The great thing is for us when it comes to enterprise solutions is that we’re not protecting a legacy WAN revenue base, which is something that’s going to be tough for some. Whatever we win in SD-WAN is great business. We’re not going to be in protection mode; we’ll be out there challenging, fresh and able to win business. There’ll probably be some challenges in the broader marketplace, but at the stage we are in right now, I don’t think it’s going to be a major issue. We’ve got it all to play for.
TR: Thank you for talking with Telecom Ramblings!
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