EdgeConneX’s Phill Lawson-Shanks on Bringing the Internet to Phoenix

Oct 12, 2017
by Josh Anderson

DENVER, CO – Phill Lawson-Shanks is the Chief Architect & Vice President of Innovation at EdgeConneX. Mr. Lawson-Shanks has been at the forefront of designing and deploying industry leading solutions in both the UK and the US for over 25 years. Prior to joining EdgeConneX, Phill was CTO of Virtacore responsible for data center build-out, network core architecture and systems to accommodate the migration and consolidation of thousands of clients and infrastructure.  Phill’s team also designed and deployed the world’s largest VMware-based Public Cloud. At Alcatel-Lucent Phill served as Chief Strategy Officer where he led their effective transition to the cloud, virtualizing many of their programs and creating meaningful time and cost savings. Phill joined SAVVIS as VP and GM of Hosting to re-establish the Managed Hosting business as well as introduce the first ‘virtual server’ product to the market. As Founder, VP and GM of Digital Media at MCI (now Verizon Digital Media Services), Phill created the division and received several related patents in the process. At a recent CapRE event, he participated in a Q&A led by Ms. Kylle Jordan, Economic Development Program Specialist at the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development titled the Impact of Demand Drivers for the Edge in the Colorado Data Centre Market, Including: AI and IoT. Below is a snippet of that Q&A.

Phill Lawson-Shanks, Chief Architect & Vice President of Innovation at EdgeConneXJordan: You’ve talked a lot about buildings. I wonder if you could formulate a bit about when and where you choose those sites – and how that can be a trailblazing moment, especially in places like Phoenix? I think that’s really fascinating and important to talk about.

Lawson-Shanks: Sure. And Phoenix is a great example of that. And a lot of people assume that because they have access to the internet, the internet is where they are. It’s very much like the Cloud – people don’t really make that association. So with Phoenix, there is a local company that had asked us to work with them. We sited a building that was appropriate for them. That particular company doesn’t have its own backbone, so it was leasing a link back to Los Angeles, a big TelCom clearinghouse actually.

So prior to us being there…let’s take Gangnam Style as an example. Everyone remembers that video. I think it’s been overtaken now, but at the time, it was the most uploaded and played video on YouTube. But every time someone in the Phoenix market clicked on YouTube, and wanted to watch that video, a request was sent back to the head end, all the way back to the data centers, and then the file would stream back in Phoenix. And the next person that did, it would happen again. And again, and again. So it was an enormous amount of cost for the company that was leasing the fiber. And the service was mediocre.

So when we put our data center there, we worked with some companies that saw the value of restructuring their content distribution and their video streaming technologies. I’m clearly avoiding names here. But they decided that in the new instance they’d place that in our data center as a trial. And immediately, that market became a steady stream. People began to sign on. People stayed on each year. People began to stay on the service longer. And then through that whole marketplace, the internet just came to Phoenix. Then the social media companies came. The technology players, CNET companies. The top video players came in. So the internet as we know it actually is in Phoenix now. Prior to that, it was available for you in Phoenix but it had to go off to Chicago, to Los Angeles, to Dallas, depending on how it was decided to be brought in.

Then we worked with the local internet exchange companies. And as we sponsored their technology, they placed it within their buildings. So again, it kept more traffic local. And now we’re working extensively with then next generation of internet exchange providers, the likes of MegaPort and packet fabric. So they’re bringing their technology to our data centers, which effectively takes all of that traffic off of the public internet, and puts it on high-bandwidth, high-speed networks to multiple cloud providers who work around the sides. So as more “net work’ is arising on the internet, we are effectively helping fix these issues before people see them as issues.

Header Photo: Lawson-Shanks and Jordan discuss the definition of the Edge at CapRE’s Denver Data Center Summit, August 17, 2017.



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