Atlanta and Southeast Data Center Summit Preview: Level 3 Communications’ Brian Fox on Nimble and Scalable Connectivity and HOV Lanes for Bandwidth
by Josh Anderson
ATLANTA, GA — CapRate is looking forward to our Second Annual Greater Atlanta & Southeast Data Center Summit August 24. In anticipation of the daylong summit we spoke with one of the many panelists who will share insight that day, Brian Fox, Senior Account Executive at Level 3 Communications, about the most interesting opportunities and challenges in the Southeast data center market, as well as his plans for our Summit.
“I have a lot of communication with customers about what’s going on in the marketplace,” says Fox. “We talk a lot about large enterprise customers having the need for hybrid cloud solution, as opposed to just throwing up everyone up on Amazon, Azure, or Google. They really need that local regional presence to transition them.”
Fox says there is a strong need for customers who want to get into managed services as well. “We’re seeing a lot of hybrid cloud connectivity, and there is also such tremendous growth in the IoT world,” he says. “I’m seeing a lot of planning for cities and states—explosive growth. They rly need to distribute their data center infrastructure. We are seeing a lot of conversations right now in the Southeast region because of IoT. It’s taking up so much bandwidth. With machine learning, censors placed everywhere, energy, tourism, there is just an explosion in bandwidth needs,” Fox continues. Fortunately, Fox says that carriers can solve problems locally for these cities.
“I am also seeing a ton of – and this has changed in the past year – the amount of bandwidth needed. It has has grown substantially in the last year alone for some of these applications. When MSPs used to ask for a gig, they are now asking for ten gigs,” says Fox, who believes that this all comes down to a need for some very nimble and scalable connectivity.
“People need to create a distributed environment across their data centers for their service providers, and they need to be able to act on the fly,” explains Fox. “For years data centers we just used as disaster recovery sites. But now they are being used for cyber security. MSPs really have pressure from customers to provide a secure environment. There is tremendous pressure.” To be clear, Fox says secure solutions in regional data center environment are simply needed across the board. Fox says that a good example is the recent merger of AI Net with a cyber security firm, which Fox describes as a “natural coming together of needs.”
All that said, Fox says challenges to meet the demand still exist. “The biggest challenge is speed to market, to be able to react quick enough to the market” he says. “Sixty-five percent of the world’s fastest growing companies are software companies. The other thirty-five percent use those software companies. You have these large enterprises and government agencies using the same applications. The applications differentiate themselves by their features and their AI. The way they do that is the way they are developed and built. It takes a lot more bandwidth to develop an application today than it did in the past. To get a fine-tuned design is a challenge. Firms like QTS or T5, they understand that a carrier is not just another vendor. A carrier keeps their customers by having a secure network that is up all the time. There is too much conversation about bytes and power, honestly. This is what it comes down to.”
Looking to the future, Fox says that he has been continuously impressed by the options out there to rise to these challenges. “This Australian company, Sinefa, does network shaping and digitalization, and they’ve really impressed data center managers. They are killing it with MSPs and carriers. And that’s because they solve the problem of being nimble. They plug their product into their customers and see every ounce of network being utilized by each application. No matter the migration, they can identify any bottleneck, any clog. They can effectively create an HOV lane, but for applications.”
Fox says he will be introducing colleagues at Sinefa to firms at the Atlanta Data Center Summit. “The reason they are taking off in twenty-four countries is because of how everyone relates to this problem. You’re not just throwing a bunch of bandwidth at a customer, you’re now able to monitor it, move it around. If you need a gig for your office 365 today, for example, you can get it.”
The bottom line? Fox says that it all comes back to having visual capability and control over your network, and being able to provide a fast solution to your customer. “It’s the question of, now that we have the bandwidth, what do we do with it? Being able to see it and shape it, it’s a real arsenal. Think of smart cities, think about traffic. Maybe we can entirely get rid of it.”
We can only dream. But if nothing else, we can continue the conversation in Atlanta. We’ll see you (and Brian Fox) there.