CAPRE Exclusive | Evoque DCS Leadership Offers Lessons Learned Standing up a Company, Establishing International Footprint
LEESBURG, VA — Established in 2019, Evoque Data Center Solutions is a colocation provider that operates an excess of 30 data center facilities worldwide. A portfolio company of Brookfield Infrastructure, the company was launched in January 2019 upon the Brookfield acquisition of AT&T’s data center assets. Headquartered in Dallas, Texas, Evoque owns and operates 31 data centers across four continents and 11 countries. Evoque Data Center Solutions offers clients a secure space in a highly available and redundant environment. The company supports a diversified base of colocation customers across multiple segments, including utilities, transport, energy, communications, healthcare, and technologies in North and South America, Asia Pacific and Europe. In anticipation of CAPRE’s Women of Mission Critical Summit September 9 & CAPRE’s Mid-Atlantic Data Center Summit September 10, we connected with Tim Caulfield, President & CEO, as well as Drew Leonard, Senior Vice-President, to check in on the latest in Evoque’s journey as the newest global-start up in the sector.
CAPRE: Thanks for chatting with us guys. What’s the latest at Evoque as we round the corner of this year, looking forward to 2020?
Caulfield: 2019 has been a good year for us. As you know, we’re probably the newest global start-up in the sector. We acquired the data center assets of AT&T, but what we acquired were the data centers, not an operating entity. So we’ve been very busy standing up the company and carving it out, turning it into a true operating entity on a global basis. We’re not quite 9 months into it and we’re pretty much right where we expected to be at this point in time. We’re looking forward to 2020.
CAPRE: Tell us more about the transition. How’s it going? What key milestones have set the tone?
Caulfield: We have a transitional service agreement with AT&T and are on track to close that out by the end of the year. Our sales force has been busy wrapping their arms around our 1000+ customers out there, and we’ve had some great responses from our existing customer base.
Our biggest initiative of the year was becoming carrier-neutral – AT&T was obviously the dominant network. They didn’t take a carrier neutral posture, but we’ve been building out independent meet-me rooms across our centers, consistent with what else you’d see across the industry, and working aggressively to sign up new carriers. In addition, we now have Megaport as an SDN provider in 5 of our facilities and we expect them to step into our full footprint.
CAPRE: What lessons have you learned during this period of transition?
Caulfield: We learned a couple of very positive lessons. For example. we signed the transaction in June of 2018 and closed it in December of 2018. We started to build out a lot of the team almost immediately during that period. And one of the good lessons learned was the importance of hiring salespeople in August of 2018, before they had anything to sell. We hadn’t closed the transaction yet, so they couldn’t sell into the AT&T data centers. They could not engage at that point in time with the customer base, but we felt strongly that on day one, we wanted a solid base of salespeople on board, that could immediately engage.
That hunch proved to be absolutely correct. They were able to start getting a feel for what was going on their markets, and building a pipeline prior to close. We ended up exceeding sales beyond what we expected in Q1 – because we had that sales force in place. Had we waited, I don’t think we would have done anywhere near as well.
CAPRE: What is the other lesson you mentioned?
Caulfield: Along those same lines, we have an 18-month TSA in place with AT&T, and we’re expecting to be complete with it within 12 months. So we’ll be completely independent of AT&T by end of the year. But we had to invest in and start working on our ERP, our CRM, our service-management system, prior to close, knowing that each system was going to take 12 months or more to stand up. That’d be consistent with normal products in the industry. And once again that proved to be the correct path to take – we used that time to make selections on platforms and start the integration.
CAPRE: What about internationally? Tell us about Evoque’s global scope as well as the journey setting your team up for success.
Leonard: Well we’re in 25 markets in 11 countries across 4 continents. We had to establish new entities in a web of different countries. That meant a legal structure, governmental structure, boards of directors, bank accounts, money, in each of those regions. Although some of them were relatively straightforward, there were markets that took a lot longer than we expected to take hold.
Look at India, for example. We still have some work in India to completely cross our Ts and dot our Is, from a business standpoint. It’s easy to talk about having an international footprint, but having that footprint in place, an everything you need with it, especially in developing countries, can be very difficult.
CAPRE: What are you looking forward to about CAPRE’s events next week?
Leonard: Well specific to this year’s event, overlaying the women in tech and tying it into the overall data center discussions is going to be really special. For me, that’s a great way to hear, not just what everyone is doing in the industry – from hyperscale to wholesale or retail perspectives — but what are the end-users looking for, what are they looking at, what technological trends are coming up, and what are people thinking of?
The one thing about this market is, you get the best-in-breed of attendees at these events, sharing their knowledge and understandings of the market. That’s unique about Northern Virginia – people share, people talk, people discuss. Being able to bring our facilities management team out there, whom generally don’t get the opportunity to attend events, to meet with peers at other companies and get to know each other, are exciting.
Caulfield: One reason I like going to CAPRE events, versus some of the others out there, is the market-specific focus. Regardless of whether it’s Northern Virginia or Phoenix or Seattle or Los Angeles, having those discussions and having folks there that have the knowledge of what’s going on in that particular market is always insightful. I typically bump into many of my contacts and we always end up comparing notes on relevant topics for us. The networking is always good.
CAPRE: What is the Evoque perspective on Northern Virginia?
Leonard: Every time I drive into the office, more land is cleared, more building are going up. It’s just amazing. Northern Virginia has always been a strong market, as long as I’ve been in the sector, but I don’t think any of us have observed anything like this. There’s nothing close to what’s going on in Northern Virginia at the moment anywhere else, from a data center perspective. So it’ll be interesting to keep watching.
The only thing I would add is that there is just so much focus on the hyperscale market in Northern Virginia. Whether you’re a hyperscaler or a hyperscale service provider, that’s where the bulk of the demand is going. However, there is still retail demand in the market, and we’re actually one of the few players that are truly focused on retail. So for those out there that are looking for space, but don’t need that big wholesale facility, and will be attending the events next week, we’re someone you should be talking to.
CAPRE: Indeed. We’ll see Evoque in Leesburg!
Hear more from Leonard on September 10 at the 10:55 am – 11:40 am panel “5G Industry Rollout and Edge Infrastructure Investment: What is the Impact Year to Date?”
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