Mike started off his career with four years of consultancy before he got the networking bug. Then he became a telecom and infrastructure ‘mutt’, in his own words. He started in the wireless industry at Nextel. Since then, he’s been involved in building, selling, or managing every kind of broadband except for maybe satellite. His leadership positions at RCN, Sidera, and GTT gave him a unique perspective on provisioning.
Regardless of the medium, he sees Internet connectivity as the plumbing behind everything that’s cool. The great things that happen in other industries often rely on the infrastructure that data center services provide.
Initially, it was the great assets and the great people that attracted Mike to INAP. They were well equipped to deal with the hybrid Cloud space that more and more companies are demanding.
But with all that potential, the company had severe issues on the debt side of things. After taking them through a prepackaged bankruptcy and restructuring their finances, he managed to get them back on the road to growth. They talked to their lenders and stakeholders ahead of time so that they could get in and out of the financial turmoil as quickly as possible. That worked well. The bankruptcy only lasted two months, almost unheard of in the industry.
The pandemic made the entire situation extra challenging of course. It’s harder to support and reassure your staff over Zoom when everything looks like chaos. But the team pulled through, changed the culture to something more positive and forward looking, and started setting future goals.
Being able to offer a suite of different connectivity and hosting options is important in today’s market and Mike believes we’re still on the front end of businesses transitioning to hybrid. So many companies still have most of their operations on premises, from an enterprise standpoint. For them, the potential of public and private Cloud is just starting to open.
For various reasons, particularly cost and the speed that a private Cloud edge networking setup can offer, a large chunk of data and operations will never see the public Cloud. Hybrid is here to stay. So, the trick is helping clients navigate this complex set of options, and making it work well without jumping through too many hoops.
Clients can feel more secure about their future when they deal with a company that has a lot of diversified services and assets. No matter where their journey takes them, a company like INAP will be able to help them out. No Cloud hosting decision is binary, or fixed, or irrecoverable. Flexibility in infrastructure design is more critical than ever.
Mike believes that the hardest job in the corporate world falls on the shoulders of the CIO, or the person in charge of the IT infrastructure. Some of the decisions they make can take months or years to play out. So, when they need to be more agile and flexible, moving their spend around, it’s important to work with them rather than stubbornly forcing them to stick to an architecture that might no longer be valid.
So, the two programs that they offer are service portability and a performance guarantee. It means that if the customer doesn’t feel like INAP is performing up to their standards, they can leave without penalty. Some of the big, specialist infrastructure providers play a ‘gotcha’ game with clients, locking then into a three-year, five-year, or even longer contract with no flexibility. To keep a client happy in the long term, it’s much better to offer flexible terms, rather than muscle them with business or legal threats. That leads to more business referrals and better word of mouth.
One of the keys to making this arrangement work is proactivity. You can’t just sit back and let customers make decisions based on limited feedback. Sharing industry experience, successful use cases, and monitoring data can help these busy decision makers plan out the next two or three moves in advance and switch over to the fastest and most cost-effective option while they’re still well ahead of the curve.
Mike admits that the geographic portability clause can be a little nerve wracking, particularly when cost structure varies from territory to territory. But it’s important to make that work to keep clients happy. He wants them to be excited when they talk about INAP, seeing them as part of the solution and not part of the problem.
One of the biggest challenges right now is making the hybrid experience as easy to consume as possible. There needs to be more automation, more options for self-service. Clients want services that work seamlessly across all platforms, no matter where they’re being hosted. INAP’s entire near future roadmap is centered around enhancing automation and self-service, that’s how important ease of use has become.
Edge networking is the other big challenge. 5G and IoT might be drivers towards this trend, but there will be so many applications for it soon. And though public Cloud will play a role, security and performance factors will necessitate that a lot of that activity takes place on private Cloud infrastructure.
As far as exciting trends: The exponential growth of apps, data, and content that all needs reliable infrastructure to be successful. There’s a lot of room for smart investors to get into this space. Global appetite simply isn’t an issue… the issue will be keeping up with the tidal wave of demand that just continues to grow day by day.
Visit INAP to learn more about Mike’s company and the services that they offer.