The data center industry continues to grow rapidly, and the many ecosystem partners that make it all happen have plenty of opportunities to follow up on. One of those companies is Rosenberger Optical Solutions & Infrastructure (Rosenberger OSI), a fixture in the European data center landscape that is looking to replicate its success in North America. Rosenberger OSI’s specialty is fiber optic structured cabling applications. With us today to tell us how Rosenberger OSI is approaching its expansion plans is Andy Shields, VP of Data Center Solutions.
TR: What is your background and what brought you to Rosenberger OSI?
AS: I was in telecoms for 20 years, including at Level 3 in global networks wholesale. I migrated over to the data center space about 15 years ago when I joined Equinix, which was still a small, little burgeoning company at the time. I also worked with Digital Realty and CBRE Data Center Solutions, and most recently was at Panduit before joining Rosenberger. Rosenberger OSI specializes in fiber optic structured cabling applications for data centers, and they hired me in February of this year to help them crack the code here in the US. I have a deep set of relationships across the telecom and data center worlds, and I believe that if you have the relationships, there’s a good chance you can least get a conversation going that can potentially lead to business
TR: What are the origins of Rosenberger, and where do they fit into today’s infrastructure ecosystem?
AS: Rosenberger is a family-run business based out of Bavaria, a place called Fridolfing which is about an hour east of Munich and just west of the Austrian border. It was founded by the Rosenberger family about 50 years ago, and today is privately held with about $1.4B in revenue. It has manufacturing facilities in Europe, Asia, and North America and around 12,000 employees in around 60 countries around the world focused on fiber optic solutions in multiple different markets such as avionics and aerospace, medical devices. Rosenberger Optical Solutions & Infrastructure has been in business for 30 some-odd years and has built a very successful business in Europe across the data center markets. We have 500 clients in various applications across the world but have really focused on the US. Late in 2020 the company made the decision to try to crack the US data center market.
TR: In what ways is the data center marketplace in the US different from Europe, and how are you approaching the US expansion?
AS: In Europe Rosenberger OSI has a very mature business with not only a full product portfolio but also a full services portfolio including design and consulting services for structured cabling projects and facilities management. Because we are new in the US, we are initially focusing solely on the product portfolio. It’s a very mature market and we have tons of competitors. We think we have not only great technology based on our years of experience in building fiber optic solutions in Germany and around the world, but we also think that we can bring value to the US market by offering our products directly to our clients. 99.9% of structured cabling business in the US is done through distributors. They provide a great service, but because we have a full portfolio of warehouses and logistics set up with one of our sister companies Rosenberger Site Solutions, we feel we can offer our world class structured cabling solutions directly to our clients. That could ultimately save them money as well as provide speed to market. I think that we have a value that will resonate with folks for whom in today’s market logistics and access to product are more important than ever.
TR: You mentioned warehouse and logistics capacity via a sister company, from where does that derive?
AS: Rosenberger has an affiliate in the US called Rosenberger Site Solutions, which caters to cell tower infrastructure applications. They have been in business for 20 some-odd years with a very substantial business as well as warehouses facilities across the US and the logistics that connect these sites. Our belief is that our manufacturing capabilities in Europe and in North America combined with this existing supply chain to transport our products across the US very expeditiously gives us an opportunity to break in and be different from the standard model. I am actually part of the Rosenberger Site Solutions team from an organization standpoint, but I am the only person so far focused on the data center space.
TR: What types of opportunities are you chasing in the data center space, and how are you approaching those opportunities?
AS: When a client leases new capacity from a colocation provider, they need to build out the facility to accommodate the space they’ve leased and support the applications that they’re driving. Part of that infrastructure that they are going to have to acquire is structured cabling. We are focused in that space within a multi-tenant data center operator. A lot of the work that’s done to build out data center space is done by contractors and fit-out firms or firms brought in by either the in client or the data center operator. Those firms buy a lot of structured cabling. My approach is to talk to the multi-tenant data center operators and to the fit-out firms, leveraging my existing relationships. Anybody that would acquire and buy data center structured cabling is our potential client.
TR: How similar is the competitive landscape between the US and Europe?
AS: They are pretty similar. There are the same group of larger international competitors. In Europe there’s some smaller players as well, and in the US there are smaller American versions of these companies.
TR: Do the varying types of clients have different needs? Do hyperscalers have different requirements than the traditional data center operator?
AS: Hyperscalers are unique clients to work with as they build huge facilities and have different applications than the typical data center operator. So we are doing some application and design work with hyperscalers for some specific products that we haven’t brought to market yet. But for the most part it’s the same technology, just different applications in terms of quantities and pricing. The datacenter space in general is doing well, whether it’s hyper-scale or multi tenant. So whether the applications for the projects are medium-size or large, there are still great opportunities for us here at Rosenberger.
TR: Entering a new market can be tricky in normal times, but how have you had to adjust your strategy during the pandemic? How do you reach new customers?
AS: Well, Zoom was the only avenue when I joined in February, and for the first four or five months I used that to reach out to folks in my network. Luckily I have a deep Rolodex of relationships. I think the first face to face opportunity was a conference that I attended in May. I’ve been on the conference schedule quite a bit since then. They’re great venues to meet a lot of people at one place and to help with getting the Rosenberger brand out into the data center market.
TR: What’s the biggest challenge ahead for Rosenberger OSI’s US expansion?
AS: To be brutally honest, Rosenberger has a great brand name across Europe and Asia, but it is not known at all in the US. People are more likely to do business with people they know and trust. I have strong relationships with people across the data center industry who I’ve worked with for many years who know and trust me. For them to consider Rosenberger, our value proposition not only has to resonate with them, but they’re more likely to have a conversation with us because they’ve worked with me in the past. So the challenge is continuing to work my relationships, talking to people who I know and getting the world class brand that Rosenberger is out into the market.
TR: Thank you for talking with Telecom Ramblings!
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